In a Christian community, everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable. A community which allows unemployed members to exist within it will perish because of them. It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable. Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of the fellowship. 

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer   


Where I grew up it was expected that us kids be outside every waking moment—it took a tornado sighting or a monsoon to get us to budge when it came to going back into the house for the day.  If you were a boy, it was seasonal sports you played.  My favorite was baseball and I’d do my darnedest to get everyone together in early spring not a day later than the last snow had melted—even if it was to forty degrees out—the beginning of another season couldn’t wait.  And I’d be sure to see it that we played well into football season come fall.  I was what you might consider the ring leader, not to mention the annual home run champ most campaigns.  More times than not I was one of two captains charged with the high responsibility of putting together a championship caliber team for the day.  And as most captains are fond of doing—I never failed to pick the strongest and most talented players first.  Most of us are taught as kids that winning isn’t the most important thing—having fun is.  Well, some of us young competitors knew better.  Losing isn’t much fun as an adult or a kid.   

The ex-cons (and even those still incarcerated), divorced, singles, disabled, terminally ill, elderly, marginalized, under-employed and the unemployed all have a place in the family of God that is just as important a spot or moreso as the spot occupied by the most learned, well heeled or highly respected member.  God’s family isn’t a business or a sports team, as it is neither a club for high rollers.  It is a family.  I don’t know about your family, but in my family each of us children are valued not for the size of the contribution we make, the depth of our pockets, or the talents we possess—we are valued because of the love that has been unconditionally showered upon us by our parents and one another.    

 1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’    (Romans 15:1-3, ESV)

The people we like to put on the bench, God puts on the field as starters, and often times these are the very people who are God’s greatest representatives as they know first hand what it is to need and depend on God.