In his book, Radical, David Platt writes of meeting with a pastor and two deacons to describe his work with the disadvantaged of the inner city of New Orleans and of some other countries. One of the deacons said to him: “David, I think it’s great you are going to those places. But if you ask me, I would just as soon God annihilate all those people and sent them to hell.”
That general attitude lurks in the minds of far too many of our church faithful, even as it is light years away from the Gospel of Jesus.
Today’s reading from Isaiah reminds us of the great thing done by God in the Exodus, which can immediately take our minds to the Passover, but just as well to all the other great things. God brought up a band of people who thought of Him as the only God, even as they struggled with living that faith.
Yet, God now promises a New Thing. In this reading, Isaiah gives us the image of God sending water into the desert; not a very complete portrait of Jesus.
Or is it? Once we understand that the desert is the Gentile world and the water is the Living Water of Jesus, we must then realize that we, you and I, are to carry that Water to those in need of the life giving power of the God of the Universe. That includes the inner city of our own country and other countries as well.
God does not expect all of us to pick up and go to New Orleans or Haiti. He has given each of us different gifts. What He does expect is that each of His believers will want to help “those people” in every way possible.
The root cause of most people’s dislike of “those people” is our natural inclination to consider ourselves superior to at least some other people. My thought when I see a man with an enormous belly is, “At least I’m not that fat.”
Why do we do that? The real root cause is an effort to overcome a sense of inferiority. I am sensitive about being “pleasantly plump,” so I salve my self-image by making believe I am superior to at least a group of even fatter people.
As a member of the Church of the Pot-Luck, I know I’m superior to those who are not. Yet I can meet with members of the church across the street because we share a similar sense of superiority; they know they are superior to members of my church. So, we join in our condemnation of all the heathens outside our buildings.
The thing that God made was so new that Paul gave up being one of the elite of Judaism to become a slave to Jesus. Jesus calls all of us who are willing to be slaves to love the most unlovable people God has not yet annihilated.
Be righteous and do good.