Who are the poor in our society? Who are the voiceless? Who are the ones we are to be standing up for, seeking justice? Who are those on the “bottom” of our society that are in danger of getting burned?
In the Old Testament, four categories of people are continually named as needing justice. Listen to the words of the prophet Zechariah: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: Administer justice, show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor” (Zechariah 7:10-11).
Widows, orphans, immigrant, poor; these are the four categories of people that have a special place in God’s heart. In the days of the Old Testament prophets, these were the groups of people who had no social power. These four groups represent a society’s minorities, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised. Today it would include migrant workers, homeless, the elderly, single parents, and people with AIDS.
Basically, anywhere people are oppressed, mistreated, abused, and silent, God’s people must stand up for them, defend them, and minister to them.
“The LORD your God…defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).
This Sunday, when you gather for worship at your local church, take a look around you. Do you see any vulnerable people? Where are the widows, orphans, immigrants, and poor? Where are the homeless, the elderly, single parents, and people with AIDS? What about the prostitute, the drunkard, the drug addict, the convicted felon? Are any of those people there, or is everyone around you just like you?
I am asking myself these same questions, and I am a pastor.