From Eden to Calvary

I have always been amazed to see Christians turn away from people in need, yet I have seen it many times.  Most times they seem to turn away because they feel the person is in need because of choices he or she has made, and therefore (because the need could have been avoided) it was between them and God.  They adopt the attitude that the needy person is just reaping what they have sown.  When I see this, I want to stand up and shout, ‘Do the mercies found in Jesus extend only to you?  How is it you call upon God to come to your aid when you need an escape from choices you’ve made, only to turn your back when your brother is reaping the consequences of his?  Is it that you deserve the gifts He so graciously bestows upon you, or is it that you’re just unappreciative?  What, I beg you, do you base your double standard on?’

Dear friends, may I suggest that we all were once bound by sin because of choices we made and that while we were yet bound, Christ loved us and offered Himself up on our behalf.  Granted, this is not the same, but the love that reached out to us while we were yet reaping the fruit of our choices should be the same love that reaches out from us to others.  Are we not born again?  Are we not partakers of His divine nature?  Has the love of God not been shed abroad in our hearts?  According to Scripture, if we help those in need, it has; if we don’t, it hasn’t (Matt. 25:31-45; I John 3:17).

Please consider this:  Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden of Eden because of choices they had made.  However, before removing them, and while they were yet unrepentant (Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent), our kind Father replaced their fig leaves with other garments, and, in so doing, demonstrated His propensity to both serve and forgive.  For with His own hand, and of His own will, He took skin from creatures in which there was blood, and, with this skin, fashioned garments for them, and lovingly covered the shame of their nakedness in this first act of atonement (Gen 3:21).  Should we who are so fortunate to have been clothed with the garments of a much more precious sacrifice now presume to turn away from the shame of the nakedness of others?  Should we not instead follow our Father’s example and temper judgment with mercy?

From Eden to Calvary, our Father’s love reached beyond reasons and choices, showing itself to be merciful and full of compassion, covering a multitude of sins.  And now, in these last days, we who have been so undeservedly born of His seed, and so freely immersed in His Spirit, have been given the wonderful commission to be vessels of His great love; we are to reach beyond reasons and choices; we are to be merciful and full of compassion; we are to temper judgment with mercy; we are, one might say, to be His hands, His feet, His body, His very heart.  Beloved of God, our gratitude alone should be enough to compel us to follow His example.

I believe these things with all my being.  So much so, that several times I’ve sold some of my own possessions in order to help people others turned their backs on.  My family and I have been so constrained at times by the love of God that we’ve gone without food in order to feed those more hungry than ourselves.  Most people can’t understand this sort of behavior.  My last employers used to try to make me promise that I wouldn’t give any money away before they would hand me my paycheck.  I never made the promise.  They kept asking why I gave so much to others.  My answer was always the same, “I’m a Christian, and that’s what Christians do.”  So-called “concerned brothers” have even called me on the carpet several times in the past several years, cautioning me against giving so freely.  (One of these brothers recently complimented me, saying, “I don’t know how someone with so little can give so much.”)

Dear friends, there’s a reasonable and valid explanation as to not only how, but also why, someone with so little can give so much.  It’s very simple — while he was yet a drunkard, mercy triumphed over judgment; while he was wasting away with cirrhosis of the liver, mercy triumphed over judgment; while his marriage was crumbling, mercy triumphed over judgment; while his son was going crippled, mercy triumphed over judgment.  So let those so inclined embrace a double standard if they will; let them turn aside unto themselves, and invest themselves in themselves; — as for me and my house, we will offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the love that reaches beyond reasons and choices, beyond thoughts and opinions, beyond judges and judgments; as for me and my house, we will invest in the Lord. Grace and peace to the vessels of God.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.