It is estimated that there are over 147 million orphans worldwide. Of course, depending on what website you look at, you’ll see the number ranging between 143 million to 210 million. Regardless of the exact number, anything more than zero is too many. These children experience things that most of us could not even imagine. Life is without hope for them. Let’s face it: the statistics are grim. In Eastern Europe, less than half the orphans will live to see their 20th birthday. Of those that do survive to their 20th birthday, over half will end up in crime, drugs, and prostitution. In Africa, the AIDS epidemic runs rampant, leaving millions of children to suffer without their families while awaiting a similar fate. Orphans all over the world are victims of natural disaster, disease, poverty, malnutrition, and more. The facts are disheartening, and while most people feel bad, they become overwhelmed and push their feelings off, believing that it isn’t their problem.
Do you understand that, apart from Christ’s unmerited grace and undeserved mercy, you too were an orphan? You had nothing desirable to offer Him. In fact, Isaiah 64:6 says, “all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Don’t miss what this is saying about us. The Hebrew word for “filthy rags” is “iddah beged” and actually means used menstrual cloth. Too graphic? Maybe so, but that’s what the Bible says we are presenting to God when we try to show Him all of the good things we’ve done apart from Jesus. You came with your own baggage and issues, but He never held that against you. He took you in and made you an heir (Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29). If He can offer us this, why can’t we offer this same kind of compassion and love toward the orphans of the world?
Guess what, Christian? Your life is NOT your own. It was bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Your agenda no longer matters, and contrary to certain preachers who advocate for your best life now, God’s utmost concern is not for what makes your life the best in your eyes, neither is it for your comfort or your happiness. God’s utmost concern is for His glory and your holiness, which is what separates you from the rest of this world (Romans 11:36; Isaiah 43:7; 1 Thessalonians 4). He wants to make you become like Him. And you are never more like Christ than when you are loving others and giving to them sacrificially (John 13:34-35; John 15:13). I’m also saying that when the Lord calls you to love others like this, it’s probably going to look crazy to the rest of the world (I mean, c’mon, what Jesus did while He was here on earth…it looked crazy to those around Him, and people thought he was in league with Satan - Matthew 12:22-29. In Acts 2, when the disciples are preaching on the day of Pentecost, people accused them of being drunk. Yeah, we should probably look a little crazy to the world). But not looking like the rest of the world…well…that’s a GOOD thing! As Christians, we are called to be salt and light. We shouldn’t blend in with the rest of the world…we should standout! (Matthew 5; Romans 12:1-2).
Instead of only being known as the people who take a stand against something (which we should), we should also, and perhaps moreso, be known as the people who take a stand for something and then ACT on it. We were not called to sit on our blessed assurances and try to live comfortably, knowing that we have “fire insurance”. We should do what we say we believe (James 2). We say we believe in the sanctity of human life (which so often references the unborn), and this is right and good. But I submit to you that the sanctity of human life does not end at birth (we who claim Christ and oppose abortion but do nothing to care for the orphans open ourselves to valid criticisms of only caring about life before it is born), but also includes the millions of orphans out there (this could also be said of the poor and the oppressed, too). What about them? Do we not value their lives enough to take them into our homes, to love them and care for them as one of our own? Christian, do you realize that if just one out of every eight people who claim to be a follower of Christ would adopt one of these precious ones into a forever family, that there would not even BE an orphan crisis? That means for every orphan, there should be one Christian willing to adopt them and seven other Christians supporting that adoption. Don’t you get that we have been given the responsibility and the opportunity to make much of Jesus and bring glory to Him through our love for these orphans? And we should WANT to do this. Our love for the Lord, OUR FATHER AND REDEEMER, should make us passionate to follow His command to care for these orphans (James 1:26-27; 1 John 2). The Lord is calling. Will you, Christian, like Isaiah, say “Here I am, Lord. Send Me.”?
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.
Tertullian (one of the earliest Christian writers, late 2nd – early 3rd century), Apologeticus pro Christianis 39:7-11
But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. See, they say, how they love one another, for themselves are animated by mutual hatred; how they are ready even to die for one another, for they themselves will sooner put to death. And they are wroth with us, too, because we call each other brethren; for no other reason, as I think, than because among themselves names of consanguinity are assumed in mere pretence of affection . . . . One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives.