I did my prayer walk up and down a portion of Madison Street today. What a beautiful day—wow! God really showed out for me today, it was such a pleasure to walk and pray. I can tell people are starting to read my blogs because some waved and some honked, and a few hollered out the window, and one couple even stopped to talk.
But others looked the other way—you know, that look that says, If I don’t look at it, it’s not real, and if it’s not real, I don’t have to do anything about it. I wonder if that’s the way the first two guys handled it in the story Jesus told about the good Samaritan. I’ve had homeless friends tell me that’s one of the things that hurts the most: when people look away from them or past them as if they’re not there. You know, when we do see but pretend we don’t see so that we’re off the hook, but the Holy Spirit is saying we should say hello…
It’s not just the homeless we do this to, it’s the poor as well… for example, that young mom with a couple of children in the checkout line who’s counting out her change to buy milk and Ramen noodles to feed her babies, but we’re annoyed because she’s holding up the line—instead of offering to pay for her groceries. Or are we busy passing judgment or trying to figure out what sin she committed to end up in the shape she’s in? Didn’t Jesus rebuke His own disciples for a similar judgment?
I’ve been doing a lot of reading the last few nights, and my Bible has been close by, so I’ve landed there a lot. One night I was reading Amos. God sent Amos to prophesy judgment to the towns of the northern region. What I noticed was a common thread—that judgment was brought because of the worship of idols and how people treated the poor. And that got me thinking about all the other places throughout Scripture where people, cities, and nations are judged or warned about the same thing. And even Jesus says, “Depart from me, you who are cursed. … For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me” (Mt. 25). We as a nation and a community give lip service that we care about the poor, but what are we really doing about it? Are we getting involved, or are we saying, “That’s why we pay taxes—let the government handle it” or “That’s what we pay the preacher for,” or “Our community leaders should be doing something about that” so that we’re off the hook?
After all, what can one person do?
We are all leaders of our own communities. For some, our community of influence might be small, just our family and friends, and for others it might be a church or civic group, and some might have even larger groups. Truthfully, the only one we can motivate is ourselves. Or are we too busy getting box seats to our favorite sporting events, or buying that new bass boat, or getting that newest Mustang because last year’s model just doesn’t cut it anymore, or building that big house because we feel entitled to it? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with new stuff, but are those things our idols?
They are if they’re stopping us from helping our neighbors in need.
My question is, what do we really care about? Jesus, and loving on the poor? Or our stuff? Is God giving us resources so we can buy more stuff, or so we can help others? You decide.