Part Four - God for the forgotten
Read Malachi 1:2
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. This is what we’re learning in this series. God is for us. He loves us. And that’s the theme of the Bible.
Basically, the Bible is a love letter from God. And here he says, “I have loved you.”
If you’ve found Malachi you will have realised its the last book in the Old Testament.
There followed 400 years of silence. Not a word from God……….. Were we forgotten??
NO – because God showed up. After 400 years of silence He moved to earth. And for about 33 years Jesus lived amongst us.
I like how the Message version paraphrases John 1:14, saying that Jesus “became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
The Bible describes Jesus this way in Philippians 2:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
It was as if God was saying, “We humans” … and people realised that God was with them, and we were now truly in it together. He had truly become one of us. And, on the cross, he took on our sin disease. He had chosen to live as we live, and he died as we die.
And it became clear that humanity had not been forgotten. That God hadn’t given up on us. That he didn’t consider us unworthy of his attention.
That God was for the forgotten.
But between his birth and death, Jesus did ministry. And one of the most notable things about it was that Jesus repeatedly ministered to the forgotten.
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Read Mark 1: 40-45
I bet pretty quickly in Jesus’ ministry it became obvious to everyone that Jesus was for the forgotten. I think that’s why the story we find in Mark, chapter one happens. In Mark one we meet a man with leprosy. Back then, the first sign of the dreaded disease of leprosy was considered a death sentence. There was no cure for it and so you just had to wait to die. The disease was considered highly contagious and so if you contracted it you were removed from society. You were sent off to live in a leper colony so you wouldn’t contaminate anyone else. You were removed from society and you were forgotten.
Lepers knew they were to keep their distance from people so as not to contaminate or inconvenience them. And that’s why what happens in this story is so remarkable. Mark 1:40, “A man with leprosy came to Him and begged on his knees, ‘If you are willing, You can make me clean.’” Notice he didn’t say, “If you are able.” He said, “If you are willing.” He doesn’t doubt that Jesus can heal him, he only doubts whether Jesus would want to. Because he had been given up on by everyone. He was well aware that he was not worth anyone’s attention. But he was holding onto hope that maybe Jesus really was different. And … Jesus was. Mark 1:41-42, “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man, ‘I am willing,’ He said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.” Why did Jesus touch this untouchable man? Because Jesus was filled with compassion. See this leper was shunned by everyone in his town. He was ignored by people, but Jesus wanted to make sure he knew – he was not forgotten by God.
It’s so good to know that we’re not forgotten, and it’s so important for us to let others know.
As followers of Jesus, we need to be for the forgotten. And, as Jesus did, we need to minister to the forgotten.
Is there someone in your church who has shown God’s love to a forgotten person, or group of people? What impact did it have?
Is there someone in your church who started attending, or came to Christ, because of the attention of a member of your congregation?
Is there a ministry in your church that is targeting a forgotten segment of society?
Maybe you hear that and you’re wondering: What should I do?
So what could you do:
For the next person in your neighborhood?
For the next person at your job?
For the next person in your school?
For the next person in this church?
Who’s the person you could show up for? Move towards? Live amongst?
Like Jesus, who could you let know that even if they’re shunned, ignored, they’re not forgotten by God?
Simon’s bit – Ringing round you all over the past few weeks – one common theme has emerged – that no one in our church family has been forgotten. Families have made large efforts to look after their loved ones, friends have gone the extra mile, church family have been in touch, unknown neighbours have become friends. We have not been forgotten and we must ensure, when life returns to normal, that no one else is forgotten. We must remember the way of Jesus and the reflections e have made over this past few weeks in isolation. When all this is over there will still be people living in isolation. Not people isolated because of Coronavirus. People isolated for numerous other reasons. People who think they have been forgotten. People we are called to reach out to……... Let's make sure we do.............