One Saturday when the kids were still youngsters, my husband got a call from someone telling him that there was a homeless guy living in a cardboard box under a bridge and that he (my husband) should go check on him.
So, my husband got his jacket and headed out the door. My first (and very fleshly) impulse was something like this: Oh dear! I hope he doesn’t bring him to our house. I have little kids, and he is probably dirty and smelly.
Now of course it was no time before I was convicted that I was not being the good Samaritan but one of those evil guys who crossed over to the other side of the road. They didn’t want to get involved with the “down and outer” who was lying in the ditch. Neither did I. I knew I had to get my heart right, and I did. I remember putting on the coffee pot and earnestly hoping and praying that Doug would bring this poor man home with him so I could show God that I was truly repentant for my initial reluctance. But the sad ending to the story was that Doug never did find him.
So now I’m going to come at this from another angle. God is the Good Samaritan, and we are all the down and outers, living under bridges in cardboard boxes. God didn’t walk by on the other side of the road. He wanted to have fellowship with us. Us! He was not put off by our sin and filth and shame. He saw us in our helpless condition, and He had compassion on us. He bandaged our wounds, took us in, and paid our way. He brought us to His hearth, to enjoy His fire, His presence, His table, and His food. This is our remarkable God: He loves the down and outer.
God initiated. He sought us and found us. He called us, and we have been brought into fellowship with Him by means of the cross of Christ. Our fellowship with God is the basis for our fellowship with one another. We are all guests at His table, brought near to our good and gracious God by the blood of His Son. Because we are gathered into one body in Christ, we extend the joy of this fellowship to one another.
“That you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).