Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This past Sunday while getting ready for church, this sonnet came to my remembrance. It is on a plaque within the base of the Statue of Liberty. These words are exceptionally powerful. For while eschewing legendary and timeless civilizations, it brings recognition to a new, and most worthy addition to the history of mankind. America. The words toward the end of this quote are what most remember and for good reason, but there is much more here for us.
I would like to say that this verse could well be the clarion call of the church; though in its long history it has intermittently forgotten its charge, and has at times resorted to maintaining the persona and image of its “storied pomp.”
I think the spiritual equivalent of this sonnet would be found in the Bible here:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
King James Version (KJV)
That, my friend is the purpose of our churches. To be relentlessly compassionate and self-sacrificing; so that no man, woman, or child be left outside its gates of salvation and complete freedom. This is further demonstrated by these verses:
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
King James Version (KJV)
This is a new age, one of incredible temptations and fear. The one I am speaking of being primarily in the areas of pornography, sexual addiction, and their accompanying compulsive behaviors.
The onslaught is not just against every single individual in this world, but specifically targeting the church, and could result in its relegation to total irrelevance if not complete collapse. This dire attack on the minds of the faithful has been proven to be more than the personally afflicted are able to overcome themselves. Shame overwhelms in a repeating cycle of futility while the church at times appears unwilling, or just believes it is unable to effectively confront the horrific consequences.
We have to stop giving up on ALL people; instead, we must chase them into the streets to extend compassion, giving of that which we have to show the love of God, and provide every opportunity for the lost and mis-guided to be completely restored.
Jesus went into the highways and byways, he went to the woman at the well, he traveled to those who were unable to come to him. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and people were saved.
What does the life of Jesus translate to in todays world? That is a really good question. But what I have been witness to is many debates and conversations without enough tangible action. We fortify our church structures to protect our revered institutions, but the truly needy and desperate must often find help elsewhere. In doing so, we deny the truth that we are all fallen and lost without the miraculous sacrifice and triumph of Jesus Christ.
The call of Christ is to preach the gospel, yes, but we are also “sent to heal the broken hearted and set at liberty the bruised.” There is nowhere it says “unless you are uncomfortable with their issues or think they are undeserving of Gods mercy.”
1 Corinthians 13:7
If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
Living Bible (TLB)
We are commanded to love, and that love doesn’t stop at the first sign of trouble, or avoid problems for the sake of appearance or comfort. That love goes beyond reason and walks with the broken. That love goes past a financial contribution and gets involved in solutions. That love is what sacrifice is all about, realizing that we are all deceived and stumbling, and precious to Jesus. That love knows offenses and hurts will try to separate, but strives that much harder to fulfill its purpose. That love doesn’t try to make clones of ourselves, but celebrates our various roads to Jesus; fulfilling the call of Gods people to be one body.
I Corinthians 12:11-14; 23-26
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many…
…And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
King James Version (KJV)
Beyond our hope, our logic and beyond our humanity, it is in Christ we will find love, and learn how to love. That, my friend, is the foundation of freedom for ALL!