Oliver! is the stage adaptation of the Dickens’s classic, Oliver Twist. It was later made into a movie which won several academy awards, including picture of the year. Whether it’s the book, the play, of the movie, the gist of the story concerns a nine year old orphan named Oliver and his struggle to survive. As the story begins, he is in a workhouse (orphanage). When he has the audacity to ask for more food (gruel), he is sold as an apprentice to an undertaker. Things don’t work out there either though and he runs away to London.
London in the 1830’s is a tough place for anyone, especially a nine year old orphan. Oliver is befriended by boy named Dodger and brought to his “home”—a hangout for other children of the street owned and operated by a man named Fagin. Fagin uses the children for criminal purposes, teaching them how to pick the pockets of wealthy Londoners. Initially though, Oliver doesn’t understand this. He’s under the impression they make handkerchiefs to sell. He sees the other boys, not as criminals, but as others like himself, unwanted and unloved. He sees them as family—a group of people who will be there for each other no matter what and give to him what no one else has given him—love and loyalty.
Consider yourself at home.
Consider yourself one of the family.
We’ve taken to you so strong.
It’s clear we’re going to get along.
Consider yourself well in,
Consider yourself par to the furniture.
There isn’t a lot to spare.
Who cares? . . . What ever we’ve got we share!
As you might imagine, it’s all pretty heady stuff for a young orphan and he casts his lot with the group.
Whatever else is true of man, it is true that God made us to have two great needs: to be in loving relationship with Him and with others (Matthew 22:34-40). Take either of these away from us and we don’t do well but our need for the second is often more obvious to us than our need for the first. I’m not sure why this is so but we’ll join gangs, do illegal activities, participate in self-destructive behaviors—if we think it means we can love and be loved.
The body of Christ is the safe haven of God’s family where we pursue both our love for others and our love for God. It is where we both receive and reflect (as much as we are able), the love of God. It is also the launching pad for us to express that same love toward the world. No one is to be unwanted or unloved!
Consider yourself our mate.
We don’t want to have no fuss
For after some consideration, we can state…
Consider yourself . . .
One of us!