Welcome Home: A Sermon Recap
“Welcome Home” is the final message of a four-part series on justice issues the church can and should engage that I’ve preached at The Fellowship. Check out the first three messages:
Confronting Modern Slavery
The Persecuted Church
James 1:27 tells us “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” It is the work of the church to care for those in need. Whether it is an orphan in our city or a slave in another country, we should see God’s call to steward our resources and our lives. In this message, let’s quickly look at three other groups in need of our attention and how all the issues of justice point to Jesus.
1. We are always responsible for those in need.
As I studied for this series, I came to the following undeniable conclusion. In the Bible, there is not a single place where the people of faith see a people group in need and God said, “Don’t worry about those people.” Instead, everything from the harsh teacher which is the Old Testament Law to the grace-filled instructions of the New Testament points God’s people to care for those in need. Here are three more groups to which we should minister.
First, we need to care for the poor. Deuteronomy 15:7, 10-11 tells us that we are to treat them kindly because the poor will always be with us. To them, we provide care so we can proclaim Christ. As Jesus taught in Matthew 25:44-45, when we refuse to minister to the poor, it is as if we have refused to minister to Christ Himself. We commit to this ministry for His sake.
Secondly, we are to honor the widow. As Paul taught Timothy how to lead a church, he spent much of 1 Timothy 5 teaching him to “support the widows.” As women with little to no means of honest support, the church needed to step in to provide for them. In our modern era, the church should be quick to embrace widows, care for their needs, and learn from them. Many of these women are giants of the faith from whom we can discipled.
Thirdly, the church is to welcome the immigrant. In our current political climate, this is a volatile subject. But, the Bible is crystal clear on the role we are to play. Leviticus 19:33-34 states, “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, you must not oppress him. You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am Yahweh your God.” The Hebrews were to remember when they were the oppressed foreigners in Egypt and allow that to motivate their kindness. As Christians, we should see our own citizenship as in a greater kingdom than this world. Regarding our current environment, I turn to Micah 6:8 that reminds us to act with justice, embrace mercy, and walk humbly before God. So, I stand unashamedly for justice on evil-doers and ask the government to do its job of protecting us as its political citizens. Meanwhile, I stand proudly in reminding the church that our job is simple: make disciples of people from all nations. We must never allow the fear of what might happen to excuse us out of the evangelism that must happen. As believers we offer ministry. No exceptions. No racism. No excuses.
As believers, we can learn from those who cannot put their hope in the things of earth. The poor, widow, and immigrant people of faith have learned that the world will fail them. We can and must show them the gospel. God clearly has a heart for widows, orphans, immigrants, homeless, hopeless, & the outcast. He makes the outsiders into insiders. So must the church. In 1 John 3:16-17, we are taught that Jesus laid down His life for us and thus we should lay down our lives for our brothers. It is the very definition of love. The best way we can love our fellow man is to lay down our needs for comfort and show them the way to Christ.
2. Our care for the needy reflects God’s salvation for us.
Everything about what I’ve covered in these messages reflects the truth of the gospel. They teach us what Jesus has done.
We are persecuted by this world and sin. It beats us and mistreats us. We are victims of its brutality. But Jesus comes to comfort our pain and release us from oppression. He is persecuted and killed on our behalf.
We are poor and have no eternal home. There is no way we can spiritually provide for our needs. We are destitute. But Jesus has come to die on the cross that we might have every provision of grace necessary to live. He is “the Door” for us and creates a home for the destitute and weary.
We are slaves to sin. It shackles us. Imprisons us. We are trapped in its snare. But Jesus has come to liberate us from sin and the judgment that awaits us. He becomes sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God.
We are spiritual widows. Lacking a permanent relationship and having encountered death, we wonder if anything can last. Jesus arrives as the perfect Groom and calls us to a covenant relationship with God. He arrives for us and desires to present you as His pure bride before the Heavenly Father. By His blood, we have entered a new covenant that will never end.
We are immigrants and exiles. Our spiritual citizenship is in a kingdom of darkness that is filled with shame. Jesus arrives and secures our citizenship in the Kingdom of God. No longer ruled by a tyrant, we have a good King who is kind and lavishes us with love.
We are orphans with no family to call for help. Alone and waiting, we hope someone will take us in. Jesus arrives for such a reason. He comes as the only Son of God that is able to change our eternity. To secure our place in God’s family, He takes upon Himself the wrath of God meant to fall upon our sinful souls. He dies and is raised to life. In that resurrection power, Jesus calls us to be the sons and daughters of God.
Romans 5:6-8 tells us, “For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” It is by the great love of God that Christ has died for us. We are the outsiders that God has made the insiders. We were dead and He makes us alive. Praise to the God who gives us life.
Image source: Radiant