While listening to Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy (available for free download at christianaudio.com), my ears perked up when Keller associated two passages of Scripture I had never even placed in the same category. The two passages are Matthew 25:34-36 & and Proverbs 19:17, which read:
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD,
And He will pay back what he has given.
The Lord’s identification with the poor (i.e. the hungry, thirsty, alien, naked, sick and imprisoned) is simultaneously His self identification as YHWH, if we associate these selections of Scripture with one another. Proverbs 14:31, although not as overt in identifying YHWH with the poor, also resonates with the same theme:
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
There you have it :) It is YHWH God who identifies with the poor, is honored when they are shown kindness, and who judges those who fail to honor Him and, thereby, show Him contempt.
Jesus Christ is God.
I’m still mulling over Keller’s words. With so much of mainstream Christianity focusing on “deeds not creeds” – which, I think, is just a way of masking widespread unbelief in the Biblical testimony, and a guard against critical inquiry into the false doctrines that many popular evangelicals hold to – it’s hard to start thinking properly about our responsibility to show mercy to the outcast in a balanced, biblical manner.