One of the most incredible facts about our relationship with God is that before we were ever conceived God not only knew us; but had also consecrated us to be his light-bearers (Jeremiah 1:5). Our Creator had plans for our lives, plans that would provide us with a hope, a future and prosperity, (Jeremiah 29:11).
Before we are born God knows just what our sexual orientation will be. I cannot believe that God would allow Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered people to be born if they were to be ultimately cast aside for all eternity because of their sexual identity. In fact, I believe we are God’s minority people – or the remnant spoken of so often the Scriptures. We are loved and cherished just because of who we are, and because of the difficulties we will face because of who we are. Yet, because of this special relationship, often we find in times of crisis, we cry out to God for help, comfort and strength.
It may appear impossible that the Power that created the universe could be at all interested in the lives of individuals. We find it hard to believe that God cares about us intimately. Yet when we realise it is to that same creative force we owe our own existence, it becomes easier to understand that God does know us personally. God is aware of all our talents, realised or unrealised, our hopes and dreams, our pain and or joy, our failures and disappointments. In us, in our lives and our interactions with others, God is there – present ceaselessly.
God’s interaction with us is like that of a parent caring for their offspring, nurturing and guiding them through the early years of their life. It is also like guru or teacher, sharing understanding with eager pupils. Yet again, it can be described as the intimate relationship we enjoy with a lover – one whose welcomes us each time we speak, who always has time to listen to us and whose presence enfolds us a surely as would the arms of an earthly lover.
Becoming so aware of God being with us every moment we often turn to scripture to discern where we should be going, what course of action do we need to take, or what responses to current situations we should make. Jesus makes it very clear that to follow in his footsteps we need to devote our love to God and to those around us – “our neighbours” as he phrased it.
Matthew 25 records his words: “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” This is the practical loving that God expects of all of us. We find more of such a ministry in Isaiah 58: 6-7: “Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me – it is the Lord Yahweh who speaks – to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke, to share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor, to cloth those you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin?”
Currently in our own towns and cities we are facing the problems of homelessness and poverty. Jesus never gave us permission to judge the cause of such conditions; instead we are expected to assist in finding solutions. More and more of the world’s population have become refuges – some 43 million of them – all fleeing from persecution, from starvation, and from the desolation war brings in its path. To these strangers arriving on our shores we are asked to provide a welcome. They have need of housing, of jobs, of medical attention, and of education. In what of these issues are we able to assist? Our prisons are crowed, overcrowded in fact; and family members and friends have abandoned many of these folk. We are asked to become friends to those who have no friends and who are in prison.
Currently nations within the horn of Africa are suffering starvation – for many this situation has not changed in over fifteen years. Babies and small children die in their parents’ arms because there is no food. How can we in affluent countries ensure that all people have food and shelter, have education and are free from fear? Each of us needs God’s direction to discern where we can assist in areas of such need.
Sometimes we can become exhausted by the sheer weight of misery throughout the world, and it is in these times we need to recall the words of Isaiah 42:6-7: “I, Yahweh, have called you to serve the cause of right; I have taken you by the hand and formed you; I have appointed you as the covenant of the people and the light of nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.”
We are all aware of responsibilities God has placed on our shoulders – responsibilities that can summed up in the words “Love God, and love (show such care for) your neighbour as you love yourself. If we are following this path God has set before us, we are doing God’s will. Keeping the lines of communication open between ourselves and God ensures that we are hearing our Creator’s words each instant. Of all people created by God we are those who, knowing the consequences of oppression, are faithful co-workers with God.
For we are the Rainbow People, who have been killed, tortured and imprisoned. We have lost our jobs, our homes, our children, our place at the family table and our accommodation. We have been denied justice and the freedom to worship within the churches of our denominations. We have been beaten and tormented, denied medical treatment by some physicians and hospitals. Yet we are the ones to whom this promise has been given: “My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, you will find a future, and your hope will not be cut off. ” – Proverbs 24:13-14
Rev. Vera I. Bourne of Lismore, N.S.W., Australia, served as Outreach Clergy at Christs Community Church.