I managed to do it for almost 40 years. You might be doing it right now, and yet you don’t even realize it. Some of you know you’re doing it, you’re ok with the fact you’re doing it, and have no plans to change the fact you’re doing it. What is it? You are ignoring the orphan.
This past weekend I taught a group of about 200 young people through various elements of biblical leadership. During my last session with them, I had one of those moments where something that had previously been a complex issue to me suddenly became clear.
The last session was meant to be somewhat of a send-off for these young leaders. We had already discussed the foundation of leadership, spiritual leadership, confrontational leadership, and protectional leadership. With those in mind, my intended purpose for the last message was to be a charge as they left our weekend leadership training event.
Speaking out of II Corinthians 5, I came across this verse in the text:
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” II Cor 5:18
As I came across this verse, I asked my foster daughter to come up to the front with me. Not used to being in front of a large crowd of people, she eagerly buried her head in my chest, wrapped her arms around me, and didn’t move. I stood and held her. It was a moment where I could tell I was her refuge. She felt safe, secure, and loved.
Yes, God tells us in other places throughout the Scriptures about his heart for the fatherless. And yes, we see quite clearly where God instructs the Church to care for the orphan. But as I was walking through this passage, I realized one major reason why we can’t ignore the orphan…
It is because at some microscopic level, we can relate to them.
I remember going to the mall with my mom on many different occasions as a kid. 99% of the time, the trip went fine, with no major problems. There were those few instances, though, when through some circumstance, I got separated from her. Most often this was the result of me hiding in different clothing racks in department stores, but that’s a whole different story.
Those moments only lasted a few minutes. But to this kid, those minutes felt like an eternity. In that brief time, I felt confused, scared, helpless, insecure, off-kilter, abandoned, isolated, unprotected, and hopeless. Eventually, either my mom came – having heard my cries – or some kind soul reunited me with her.
Either way, we were finally reconciled.
In this section of Scripture, Paul reminds us that we have been reconciled to God, and that we have been given this ministry of reconciliation. We were lost and hopeless, but now we’re found. As “found ones,” we should now look to help other “lost ones” be reconciled back to their Father.
As I held my foster daughter in front of everyone, it hit me. Having the “ministry of reconciliation” is about helping lost children find their Daddy. When I see all people as orphans – separated from their Father – it gives me a renewed passion to help them find “home.”
Steph and I have begun to understand the heart of God more clearly, as we have the fatherless in our home. By reading this passage, I am spurred all the more to help orphans – both physically and spiritually – find their Daddy.
After all, I remember – even if for such a short period of time – how much it hurt to be separated.
What does your “ministry of reconciliation” look like?