Saturday, April 6, 2013

The God Who Stoops Low

On Wednesday I was writing discussion questions for our area WHY Groups on the Beatitudes.  I hoped to draw the distinction between our world's view of success and what Jesus says about what it means to be blessed.  In a way only Jesus can, he radically redefines our ideas of blessedness: if you are poor, if you mourn, if you are meek, hungry, merciful, pure in heart, peacemaking, or persecuted--you will be blessed (Matthew 5:3-10).

Lutheran pastor/teacher Brian Stoffregen's comments are helpful in understanding the Greek word for "blessed," makarios:

"The old Rabbi said, "In olden days there were men who saw the face of God."
"Why don't they any more?" a young student asked.
"Because, nowadays no one stoops so low," he replied.
"Who wants to be a lowly person? Who wants to be stooped down? Most of us spend a good part of our lives trying to pull ourselves up. We want to walk tall in society. But, according to this rabbi, it is the lowly – those stooped low – who see the face of God. According to Jesus in the Beatitudes, it is the lowly – those stooped low – who are blessed by God. This runs counter to the normal uses of that word for blessed, makarios."

Later that afternoon, I went to WestConn to hear a speaker from a New Haven-based NGO called Love146 that combats the child sex slave trade.  The organization is closely linked to IJM, but its focus is more narrow.

Love146 COO Jim Ehrmen expertly communicated the problem to an audience for whom the issue was relatively new.  "The market value of a slave in 1850 was $40,000 with inflation," he said.  "And pardon my crassness, but when you have a machine at that value, you take care of it."  Then he shared the shocking reality; a child sex slave in today's economy is worth roughly $90.  And so millions of children around the world are being trafficked and used as commodities that may be discarded when they are no longer useful to their owners.

"You wanna know what's fueling sex trafficking right now," Jim asked the crowd.  "Children who don't have a rudder, who don't have a home, who don't have a sense of well-being."  

In the face of such devastating information, I'm thankful that we serve a God who has stooped low for us, making himself nothing (Philippians 2) and taking on the suffering of the world.

I continue to wrestle with this question of how I am to join Him in this stooping low, this identifying with the suffering of the poor, the mourning, the hungry, the persecuted.  

This morning, I'm departing for Haiti--a part of the world that some have called "Fourth World," simply because the living conditions there are so far beyond anything else in the underdeveloped world (i.e. Third World).  I am thankful for this opportunity to meet those who have seen the face of God.  May we be a people who take hold of the same blessing.

1 comment:

sarahhumming said...

Love this, Chels. Am reading a book called "1,000 Days" as a part of a church study and the author translates the word "oppressed" as Jesus would have said it in Hebrew...he said it meant "broken, beaten down, hurt" I have been thinking on this as well. Love how hearts can line up! Praying for you in Haiti, for protection, and for a spirit of open-heartedness and brokenness that points to Jesus. Love you so much!