Unveiling the Hidden Suffering: A Call to Serve

During a recent trip to Arizona, I found myself lost in the heart of downtown Phoenix, surrounded by skyscrapers and a bustling brunch crowd. As I turned a corner, my surroundings changed dramatically, revealing rows of tents, tarp canopies, and people carrying their belongings in shopping carts. The contrast between the two scenes was startling, and it reminded me of the suffering that often remains hidden from view.

This experience led me to reflect on my own community in Atlanta, and I wondered about the people living on the margins that I might be unaware of. Despite knowing the statistics about homelessness and the various ministries in the city, I asked myself if I truly knew anyone in that situation on a personal level.

The Bible, at times, can seem abstract and complex, but when it comes to the teachings of Jesus, the message is clear and simple: we are called to manifest His love on earth through acts of service and compassion. In Matthew 25:34-40, Jesus describes the criteria for inheriting the kingdom of God, highlighting the importance of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and welcoming strangers.

When we ultimately stand before God, we won’t be questioned about our theological beliefs or doctrines but rather about whom we served and cared for. This call to compassion is not limited to believers alone, as parables like the Good Samaritan demonstrate that no one is excluded from our concern – even those we might consider enemies.

The Bible consistently emphasizes caring for those in need. In Zechariah 7:8-10, the Lord instructs His people to practice kindness, compassion, and justice and not to oppress the vulnerable, such as widows, orphans, and strangers.

However, for many of us, our daily routines can inadvertently create distance between ourselves and those in need. Whether we pass by a remote prison or a hidden community of unhoused individuals, our lives are often separate from the very people Christ commands us to serve. How can we fulfill this calling when our lifestyles don’t align with this directive? How can we bear one another’s burdens if we aren’t close enough to build relationships?

The love that Christ expects from us demands a conscious awareness of our surroundings and a willingness to step out of our comfort zones. Just as my experience in Phoenix taught me, sometimes all it takes is turning a corner to encounter the suffering of our neighbors. To truly love and serve them, we must be close enough to understand their struggles and needs.