I have been reading "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey. This was a required reading from my New Testament class. We were only required to read a portion of the book but it's so good that I have continued to read it. I highly recommend it!
Recently, in reading about the Ascension, my eyes were opened to yet another paradox of the Bible. According to Yancey, we are living in the meantime. This is the centuries long time that we currently live in…the time when God appears to be absent. (How's that for a play on words?) To the contrary, God is not absent at all. He is ever present in the unlikely disguise of the sick, the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and the prisoners. He is the single mom, the elderly in the nursing homes, the grieving daughter, the man dying with cancer, and so many more.
The one thing I found powerfully intriguing is when Yancey writes, "Since we cannot express our love by doing anything to profit God directly, God wants us to do something profitable for the poor, who have been delegated the task of receiving Christian love." ….Amazing Grace.
I found it curious that he used the word "task" when referring to the receiving of Christian love. A task is defined as a definite piece of work assigned to, falling to, or expected of a person; duty. It is also defined as a matter of considerable labor or difficulty. So, according to Yancey, receiving Christian love is a duty of which involves considerable labor or difficulty.
Here's the paradox. In the world we live it makes sense that giving would be the task and receiving would be the blessing, right? But, in the Christian realm, the blessing is the giving and the receiving is the difficult part.Blessed are the meek, and the poor. I see this in a different light. It is more blessed to give than to receive. I understand!
To give sacrificially to the poor and needy is to encounter God's presence during the "meantime" while we wait for Christ's triumphant return. To receive is a blessing because the one who is receiving has been delegated that difficult task in order that God's presence might be known. It is an opportunity to allow others to receive the blessing of service to Christ. This sure sheds a new light to the question, "How can a loving God allow suffering?" It is our suffering that draws us to depend on Him. It is through reaching out through the hurting of others that Christians can have a personal encounter with God. Is this the good spoken of in Romans 8:28?
"God has designated the poor to be His receivers." – Philip Yancey
Today's Shot of flavor:
"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me" - Jesus