Loving our Orphans

When I came to Chicago, I noticed that our call for compassion cannot be lived as an idealistic dream. One night, I gazed at all the sleeping homeless men and realized I was standing in the midst of a sea of orphans; a hundred guys without families, ostracized and seeking someone to listen to their endless stories. I was encountering anger, grief, hopelessness, mental illness and incarceration, not a cute little orphan boy begging for another plate of food.

We unconsciously commit acts of neglect and favoritism when we conform or are stained by this cruel world. The weak get weaker, the poor get poorer and the defenseless continue to be enslaved by dominating forces. Our challenge is to wash away that dreadful stain, by not conforming to the pattern of this world!

As the world teaches us to prioritize money, power and popularity, we lose the capability to truly love and experience the biblical vision of “pure religion”. James was calling his listeners to live stain-free, by taking some initiative and visit widows and orphans with revolutionary love.

Alex watched his mom commit suicide. His daddy never cared. Full of rage and only a teenager, Alex began his homeless journey. He was mad at God, authority and any person who stepped into his path! He started gang-banging, selling drugs and embracing his life of violent rage. To this day, he remains an emotional time-bomb and is dangerously unpredictable! Visiting this young orphan takes courage and means listening to the angry lyrics that spill forth from his lips.

I believe James knew that widows and orphans could be difficult people to relate too. Often they are like our young distressed Alex: lonely, full of rage and depression, tainted with a criminal record, erratically emotional, mentally ill and in search of love. Too many lonely souls wander our streets. If we are dwellers of His compassionate Kingdom, our call is to live in non-conformity; dwelling with, visiting, embracing and loving our distressed widows and orphans.
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