quick update: remember this post? i'm not the only one experiencing and marveling at the inseparable connection between God's overwhelming love and grace, our call to be a light in the darkness, and the need of salvation from opression for the poor. God has such a heart for them, tapping into His love for them is like opening a waterfall from a mere faucette.
Here's an excerpt from what Beth Moore's daughter recently wrote about the subject on the LPM blog:
"Can I just tell you that the more I fall in love with the people in Calcutta the more grateful I am that we serve a God who cares deeply about the poor? I could list verse after verse as far back as Genesis all the way through Revelation that reflect God’s concern for the poor and oppressed... but right now I am far too consumed with Isaiah 58, especially the first eleven verses.
I am especially stricken by Isaiah’s definition of true religion. I hope you'll take some time to study this passage on your own but in brief, the people of Israel cry out with frustration because they do not feel that God is responding to their pious fasting. The text goes on to convey that, in fact, God really isn’t all that impressed by their outlandish religious demonstrations like bowing their heads in “humility” or laying in sackcloth and ashes.
His definition of fasting is cast in remarkably different terms. If the people of God want to fast in such a way that they just might get God’s attention then they need to start being agents of justice in a broken world. They need to stop believing that humility before God and apathy toward their fellow human beings, especially the poor and oppressed, could ever co-exist. They need to loosen the chains of injustice. Set the oppressed free. Share food with the hungry. Clothe the naked. The incredible part about this passage is the promise that if the covenant people of God would really truly fast in such a mind-boggling and earth-shaking way, then light will break forth like the dawn. The Lord will turn his ear toward them and His very glory will be their protection. I take so much heart in the fact that our God is a God who loves the people in Calcutta who are bound by the tight grip of poverty. That He thinks that caring for them is essential, that it is at the very core of our personal and corporate spirituality. What a vivid picture of the bountiful and impartial love of God."
then a quote from Richard Bauckham:
“Poverty, in a sense, exposes the truth of the human situation in its need of God. It dispels the illusion of being self-sufficient and secure, with no need of God. The poor are those whose material condition enables them to see more clearly than most the human need to be wholly reliant on God. It is in this sense that the biblical poor are understood as paradigmatic in their faith.” (Richard Bauckham, Wisdom of James, disciple of Jesus the Sage, 190).
and finally says:
"Perhaps Jesus speaks of the poor as the paradigmatic people of God because the poor, kind of like the chronically ill, are most likely to recognize their utter need for God’s saving power. Perhaps the Lord commands the rich (which in context of our global economy is you and me, even the poorest among us) to empathize and identify with the plight of the poor and care for the needy so that they too can glean this truth. Humankind in its totality is completely dependent on God’s power and provision. There are no exceptions. All material wealth is fleeting and fading quickly."
i love it. and i love learning more about experiencing and understanding and taking-in this kind of love, this level of devotion, this extremity of adoration.