Part V of our Series on Visiting and Remembering
In our last post, we discovered that God visits those in need around us…through us! This is key for us to understand Visiting and Remembering. It is not that God visited us, so we should visit others. It is that God visits others, through us. Peter’s visit to Cornelius is instructive for us, here.
But note something else that’s really significant about the way the Bible looks at our visitation. When Jesus’ brother James later describes Peter’s visit to Cornelius, he doesn’t describe it as Peter’s visit to Cornelius but as God’s visit to the Gentiles:
And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. (Acts 15:12–14, ESV)
God continues to visit orphans and widows in their distress, often sending as his ambassadors those he has also redeemed from their distress. James says this is one of the two marks of authentic faith:
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. (James 1:27)
Biblically, the word “orphan” is broadly defined. The Greek orphanas can mean not only those without a parent but also those without a teacher.
Jesus uses the word that way when on the night before his death, he promises ongoing visitation to his disciples, saying, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
And when prisoners are beyond our reach as his ambassadors, he calls upon us to change the way we think and live so that we will never forget what they are experiencing:
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. (Hebrews 13:3, NKJV)
Scripture portrays God as always making good on his pledge to visit those who invite his presence either by their word or their distress.
He visits through his messengers at present, but the Bible affirms that he will once again return in person.
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)
Daily we are mindful that he will return. He will not leave us. He will visit us again—here, on what C.S. Lewis called The Visited Planet. That is our distinction in the galaxy: not just that we have air and water and carbon-based life forms. But that this is the place where God visited—and where he will visit again.
That’s what we affirm every when we join together to in saying this great mystery of our faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Who did God send to you in your time of distress?