I’m pretty sure that I just made up a new word because my spell checker doesn’t like it. So, let’s define it.
n. a complete status deficiency; the state of being a nobody
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.
Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.
This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Scripture is rife with references to taking care of the widow, the orphan, the fatherless, and the alien. Something about that makes me think it might be important in God’s eyes and it might be good for us to understand what the Bible is saying so that we can be part of God’s plan. And, rather than creating a list of the “categories” of people God would have us help, I believe that there is a common thread among all of them.
- The widow and the orphan – Having no husband or father (provider), the widow and orphan would have few, if any, resources. No income. No advocate. No one to speak on their behalf.
- The fatherless – I read this as “illegitimate”. The despised and cast out of society. Those punished for the sins of another. Those with no future.
- The alien – The immigrants. Those who are not from the “right” family line. Those who do not seem to belong.
What happens to a person without status? Advantage is taken of them. They are ignored. They are forgotten. They aren’t afforded opportunity or training. They aren’t defended.
As believers, we acknowledge our own fallen state. We acknowledge that we are widows and orphans. That we have made ourselves fatherless and alien. Yet the Father, in his mercy, saw fit to be the advocate on our behalf. He became like us, took on our statuslessness so that we might know him and be made right with him.
Think about it: In the eyes of society, Jesus was illegitimate. Having been conceived by the Holy Spirit before his parents were married, we view his birth as completely legitimate, yet society did not and still does not view this in the same way. Joseph, his father on earth, died, leaving Mary a widow. And though the world was made by him and he came to his own, the world did not receive him nor was he recognized – the alien.
If such love and grace, such extravagance – that God would become like us so that we might know him – was extended to us, how much more should we do the same? How much more should we give to help those in need? How much more should we work to provide resources for those who would be taken advantage of? How much of God’s will should we try to bring to earth as it is in heaven?
We may not have the ability to stop every injustice. We may or may not be able to legislate morality. But we have the ability to help shape the landscape of society by giving of ourselves so that those with no status can receive and grow in status. To both provide for needs and to equip for the future.