Context is everything
Just suppose you heard a beautiful and talented 27-year-old female bemoan, “I ain’t got no man in my life.” Now, consider that the woman saying these words was a bride-to-be on the television show Married at First Sight.
Would you feel sorry for her? Or, would you do as I have done and raise your voice to the screen of your television and say, “You’re only 27!”
For the record, my wife (and a couple of men I know) watch Married at First Sight, but I can’t stand that show.
But what if it were little boys who said, “I ain’t got no man in my life”?
On Friday, as I was transporting a bus load of children to their homes, I happened to ask the kids behind me, “Do you know what today is?”
“It’s Friday!” answered a young boy to my right.
“And what does that mean?” I asked.
“That means you ain’t got a job tomorrow, or the next day. . . You don’t get to work till Monday.”
“Well,” I responded, “that’s not exactly true. I have weddings to do tomorrow, and then on Sunday I preach at church, so I will be working every day.”
“Preaching ain’t work!” one boy replied. “Yeah,” said another, “preaching ain’t a job!”
“Well, they pay me to be their pastor at the church where I preach,” I said.
“Then if you get paid, I guess it’s a job,” replied one of the boys.
It is illegal for me to take pictures of children on the school bus, but there’s nothing illegal about me submitting an accurate and detailed artistic rendering, is there?
Who’s Your Daddy?
One of the boys behind me then said, “My pastor is my daddy,” to which I replied, “That’s cool!”
“Well, I mean, he ain’t really my daddy,” the 3rd grader said, “but my mamma told me I could call him Daddy.”
I nodded my head, looked in the student mirror above me, and replied, “OK, I guess that’s a good thing.”
That’s when this young boy said, “I ain’t got no man in my life.”
To which the two boys to my right and behind me said with a matter-of-fact tone, “I ain’t got no man in my life, either,” and “I ain’t got no daddy.”
My heart broke.
I held up my right hand and put my thumb and forefinger almost together and said, “Well, then, maybe I can be your ‘mini’ daddy on the bus.”
The little boy behind me then exclaimed, “Yeah! You could be my bus driver daddy!”
As soon as the boy behind me told me I could be his “bus driver daddy,” the following words immediately – I mean immediately – came to mind . . . “A father to the fatherless.”
Now, when I began to think of the verse from which those words came, I had in my mind James 1:27, which described what “true religion” is:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.
“To visit the fatherless” wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it was close. I took the extra step to dig into the word “visit” and there I found that it means (my paraphrase): “to look at something with the intention of doing something.”
But then I found the source verse which takes the whole thought to a higher level. There, in Psalm 68:5, the Psalmist refers to God as . . . you guessed it . . . a “father to the fatherless.”
Therefore, when we allow God to use us, He can place us where our faith – our religion – can be “worked out” for the benefit of those in need. Pure religion, the real thing, is not simply a formulaic system of do’s and don’t’s that make us look holy; it’s an outworking of the character of God through us to those who need to know the love of God, their Abba Father.
HE’s the man they really need in their lives!
Remember this: For the Christian, there are are no “secular” jobs; every job is holy . . . every job is an opportunity for ministry.