There is a famous painting by Rembrandt of the Prodigal Son scene from scripture. One can study it for hours at the Hermitage in St. Petersberg and still not take it all in. When I saw it in person, however, I noticed that there was a figure deep in the shadows that can hardly be seen on pictures or reproductions of the photo. You have the father and the two sons but lost in the shadows is another individual watching the scene.

That painting is a reminder to me that we are surrounded by "people in the shadows" who are not recognized, are often not noticed, do not get the attention others get and who look on at those around them from a distance. They are the forgotten, those who don't fit into our socio economic group perhaps, maybe disabled or different or elderly, or just don't fit into the mainstream. They are people in the shadows, often lost and forgotten by others. In Jesus' day, they were the leper, the prostitute, the woman who suffered from years of discharge, the paralytic and those shunned by proper society.

To the prophets in the Old Testament, the people in the shadows were the orphans, widows, sick, poor and hungry (Isaiah 58). They were those who could not (from a human perspective) add value to the lives of others so they were ignored and forgotten. In other places it was the "alien in your midst."

From the world's point of view, people in the shadows are marginalized, unimportant and even "throwaways." To God they are men and women and young people made in His image, precious, and potential sons and daughters of a king. If Jesus saw them as valuable and important, so should we.

Who is standing in the shadows in your congregation, your workplace, your neighborhood - like the almost invisible individual in Rembrandt's painting? Almost unseen because they are marginalized and left alone. The truth is that we ought to go out of our way, like Jesus, to recognize those in the shadows. Most of us get the attention, love and recognition that we need. Those in the shadows do not. Watch for them and love on them and show them that they too are special in God's sight.
  • Jun 10, 2011
  • Category: News
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