Wash yourselves; and make yourselves clean;

remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;

cease to do evil,

learn to do good;

seek justice,

correct oppression;

bring justice to the fatherless,

plead the widow’s cause.

Isaiah 1: 16, 17

 

Most of us can say with all honesty that we did not cause the problems and troubles that are running loose over the face of our world. The roots of these troubles go far down into history, and they usually have very complicated beginnings so that solutions to them seem to be beyond comprehension and to defy accomplishment. Yet, that is not a sufficient reason for us to throw up our hands in surrender to the situation as it is and to attempt to ignore what is happening in the daily lives of millions of people. You and I may not be able to stop a civil war or turn back the hatred driven forces of genocide as they seek to obliterate every trace of an entire group of humans from the face of the earth. What we can do is love those who escape from this sort of evil. We can accept them, set aside our fears for the good of humanity, enter into their life stories, and give them a sense of their worth in the world where we live. We can grant then the honor and the dignity of having the thing that God grants to anyone who comes to Him, and that is a dwelling place in the presence of the Great King.

 

I mention Syrians and Rohingyans specifically, but All of this applies to people from numerous other locations and situations in their home lands. There is violence of the armed sort in many places in our world, there are many others who face dire economic and societal troubles and challenges that make it impossible to live in those counties, and religious and cultural prejudices make some locals untenable for those who are in the weaker positions. The politics of our world are overrun by the ways that we do harm to some of the people in our midst. So, what can we do about all of this? We can seek for our governments to be active voices for change in places where justice does not prevail. We can speak out to let our legislators know that God’s will is for us as a nation to set human rights and care for people as higher priorities than economic gain or military power. We can also support efforts that are undertaken by nongovernmental organizations to provide care, comfort, and safety to people who are being oppressed around the world.

 

The first step in this redemptive process is to stop doing harm. This is best accomplished with a repentant heart, for whatever is angry, fearful, proud, and defensive in us when it comes to the way that we view other people is coming from a source other than God’s word of truth, and these attitudes are almost always sinful at their core. A repentant heart is one that can turn these thoughts, words, and actions over to the Lord and yield them to Him so that His Spirit can begin to do His transformative and redemptive miracles of change within us. From this point, we can learn to do what is good by listening to the Lord and seeking His heart in His Word and by seeking out people of faith who are engaged in acts of mercy, in peacemaking efforts, and with serving the needs of people who have come to us as refugees and as immigrants. There is much to be done, and there are many people who need to know the love of Christ as given to them in the acts, the words, and the companionship of people who serve Christ. When we allow the weak, the broken, or the foreigner a place at our table of grace, we are truly joining together with Christ in His great love feast of grace, mercy, and hope. Then we are dining in the Hall of Redemption with Christ blessing us all from His place at the head of the table.