I will gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.
Zephaniah 3:19
Both Hebrew and Christian theology depend heavily on the outcast. In the Old Testament, we read of Israel as an outcast in Egypt and in Babylon. The main focus of the New Testament is on the One who came to teach, heal, and ultimately save the outcast. And so it's easy to see why the entire Bible demands of us an answer to the question, "What is my relationship to the outcast?"

For some, the answer is, "I am an outcast." The poor, the sick, the unemployed, the homeless (or nearly homeless), the imprisoned—all have a claim on this label. Others are outcast because of skin color, language, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity. The outcast is not always openly rejected, but nonetheless is made to feel somehow unacceptable, lacking in wholeness.

For those who are whole, who are comfortable, reputable, well-off, healthy, it is important to identify with those who are not. God's word—both in the scriptures and through the Incarnate Christ—teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This sort of equality-demanding love not only lifts up the lowly, but brings low the mighty, for to love another as myself is to place myself on their level.

In the end, the outcast will be restored and given a voice that points others to God. If we ignore the lowly, rejected, or marginalized, we might not hear their testimony of what God has done for them and what God can do for us.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.”
 Acts 1:6-8
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Gather us to you in faith, Lord Jesus, that, with you in us and us in you, we may share your love with the world.
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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