A while ago, I started being more authentic on the blog, and joined Joy, a writer I’ve come to know and respect, in sharing about life: unmasked, in which I share some of my struggles, questions, and failures. I may link up with her or I’ll do it on my own. Either way, I feel it’s important to live and write unmasked.
Today’s life:unmasked post is inspired by my brilliant Twitter friend, Seth Haines‘s recent blog. I had a different post scheduled to run today, but after I read this post I needed to change it up. It seems God isn’t done raking coals of fire over my soul.
Seriously, go read Seth’s post about his son.
Anyway, here’s what struck me:
As we pulled into the driveway and walked toward the house, the cicada songs were near deafening. On the old table by the door there were spent cicada skins collected, and I asked Isaac whether these were his.
“Yes,” he said. “Some people think that molted cicada skins are gross, but I think the things God makes are worth saving.”
Maybe it was that I just finished proof reading yesterday’s post about comfort and idolatry and sharing the gospel, or maybe it was Holy Spirit piercing through to my heart with the words of an eight year old boy. More likely, it was God’s providence to work through both, but these words sent me reeling.
Because I could swear that every day on the way home from work I pass the same four alternating homeless people at a corner not far from my house. I mean, it’s like they’ve got a rotation system set up or something. And every day I subconsciously hope I don’t get stopped at the light, and I’ll check my phone when I am stopped so I don’t have to risk looking them in the eye. Because I just don’t want to deal with the fact that some part of me just doesn’t care. I mean, I care that they’re homeless and that they need work and that they need money, but somewhere part of me just doesn’t trust that if I give to them that I won’t be taken advantage of and that they’ll use whatever gift I’d give for its intended purpose rather than on something to further damage themselves. I’d rather protect myself than be part of God’s rescuing them.
But that is so not gospel. That isn’t Jesus. There is no self-protection in the gospel. There’s wisdom and good stewardship, and ways of being generous without enabling bad habits. So really all of my “concerns” above are just excuses to not get involved. To not sacrifice. To not be like Jesus.
I know I’m not alone in this. I mean, I’m not the only car not rolling down the window. I’m not the only person who’s more interested in Twitter or Facebook than he is in the life of a person standing on the street. Maybe this is why millennials are leaving the church, because there’s too many people who just drive by and don’t care. There’s too many people who are ok with being the guy beat up on the side of the road for the sake of the gospel, and there’s too many people who don’t have a heart check when they’re being the religious leader walking out of his way to avoid the hurting and dying. But there’s just not enough people willing to be the Good Samaritan.
I get it, we’re all fallen, we’re all broken. We’re all victims of a consumeristic, selfish society. Like the cicada skins, we see homeless people as gross. They’re unkempt, haven’t showered, and their skin is worn from consistent exposure to the wind, heat, and cold. We would be like any of the lost or marginalized if our positions were reversed. But we’re also Christians. Christians who have been redeemed from fallenness and healed from brokenness and freed from consumerism and selfishness. Christians who have been called – who have been commanded to be part of God’s redemptive work among the least, the lost, and the lonely (Matt. 28:16-20; 2 Cor. 5:11-21; the rest of the Bible).
Watch this video to see how one man’s selfless act served as the catalyst to bring several to Christ.
I know I use it as an illustration, but the point isn’t about the homeless. It’s also about the person sitting across from us at Starbucks. We’re so focused on reading or writing or relaxing and going about our day that we just let ourselves exist in different worlds even though we’re sitting right next to each other. It’s about having compassion for the hurting and dying, whether they are on the street asking for money or drinking a four dollar cup of coffee.