Friday, November 06, 2009

When Men Become Expendable - Part Two

The Homeless

"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27

"Open your mouth, judge righteously and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy." Proverbs 31:9

Several months ago I remember reading an article about homeless men and women being corralled and flown out of New York City on one-way flights – paid for by the government and taxpayers. Are you kidding me? Response after response over it online was how great of an idea it was as it would save the city money on costs for shelters. After all, who wants bothered by them anyway, right?

I'll personally admit that I've had little history with the homeless. Even the reference to them as such turns my stomach as it automatically categorizes them in people's minds and somehow deems them as lesser. I have however had enough interaction with several over the years to get the gist of many of their circumstances. I'd say that all of them that I have personally met had one major event that went horribly wrong and set off a chain of events that changed everything. They had no one there to help them and the end result was that they lost all that they had and ended up on the street. Whether it was their own fault or not is irrelevant really. We all make bad mistakes and thankfully, don't always reap the bad benefits due us. Despite most people's willingness to believe this, it could easily happen to any one of us within a very short time frame, should the circumstances be right. How are they viewed though? How do you see the homeless? They're often dirty and disheveled with few, if any possessions and generally understood to be somewhat mysterious. In this culture, if you're dirty and your abode is a city park, then you are automatically a lesser man. I would assume that we have all felt this at some point. Some figure out that these men and women are no different than any other and leave that prideful mindset behind, others will go to their grave avoiding them at all costs and assuming that they are somehow unworthy of respect, love and attention.

I will tell you, in absolute complete honesty, I don't know that I have ever been moved so deeply as when showing the love of the Father to a certain homeless man two years ago. I've only seen him three times since I met him two years ago (he lives in another city), but the day that I picked up Jerry and simply spent thirty minutes with him will forever be etched in my memory. He has value, he has purpose, he has life – He is a man created in the image of God. My time with him taught me more about the Gospel in minutes than years of evangelism courses and Sunday School classes ever did. These who we call "homeless" are our brothers and sisters in this world. They have value. They are not expendable. (I encourage you to stop and find the dozens of times that Jesus referenced the poor and the forgotten in the Scriptures. You might be surprised to find when reading His descriptions of them, they are more likely closer to God than any of us.)

These that society has cast aside and heaped insult upon their already dire circumstances are men and women of value. They were created in the image of God. Their lives have purpose and destiny. They are not expendable.

NEXT: Part Three - Race


Eric said...

If we want to become more like Christ and take on His values and characteristics... We better let our eyes be opened to the physically poor in our world, not only the "spiritually" poor. In some ways seeing everyone as spiritually poor is a cop-out. I mean lets be honest with ourselves. It's easier to be in relationship with someone who doesn't need money or need my physical earthly possessions. It really becomes a threat to our own comfort when we become friends with someone who has far less than we do. It makes us realize more of what injustice is. The Lord obviously has a special sensitivity to the marginalized and oppressed of any society, the afflicted, the poor, the needy, the downcast, the homeless poor we should invite into our homes, and pure "religion" ( he used the forbidden word). Maybe the Word is right about religion, maybe we're wrong... maybe we do need religion after all, just a pure religion not a defiled one.

But joel, good blog, you should do a part on the oppression and slavery that goes on over seas by companies like RCA or other big companies that take advantage of someone's social status and exploits them for the benefit of rich westerners. I think that's a great example of who is seen as expendable by the Christian community. We don't want to hear things like that. just a thought though.


Daughter of Wisdom said...

Joel, great post. It is time we stopped looking the other way when it comes to the homeless. I took your challenge and found a very fitting scripture:

Matthew 25:31-36, NIV:

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

It seems that Christ is going to judge us based on how we treat others. A sober reminder.

Peace and Blessings,

Joel Spencer said...

Eric: You're right, taking a good hard look into the physical needs of others requires more of us. It requires alot less of us to simply say "I'll pray for you" than to give someone, say, a weeks wages. Our hold on "our" money and possessions can be a strong one.

Your reference to pure and undefiled religion is a good one as, when done as God desires, is not a curse word. I'm reminded of 1 Timothy 5:16 that states "the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed". Lush campuses, huge bills and outrageous salaries proclaim that Christianity is more interested in itself than in the needs of others. This must change.

Regarding the overseas issues, point me somewhere as I know little about it. Thanks Eric!

Joel Spencer said...

Daughter: A sober reminder indeed. I believe we, as a general Western people, overlook what we do not understand or know how to approach. If we don't like it or know what to do with it, we ignore it and move on. We are not ever driven to face what we don't like or understand. I believe this too plays a role in our view of those in desperate need of our help.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Joel, you mentioned:

"Lush campuses, huge bills and outrageous salaries proclaim that Christianity is more interested in itself than in the needs of others. This must change."

I totally agree. We have taken such pride in, and have given so many sacrificial offerings to the building of buildings and campuses, but find it hard to give sacrificially to others - another human being. I tell you, this loveless religion in which we pride ourselves in, is certainly NOT the vision Christ intended for Christianity.

Joel Spencer said...

Daughter: When you remove yourself, step back and look at the institutions of Christianity, it is downright assinine to see how much time, money and attention is given to buildings and environments. All the while, the world goes by unnoticed, by comparison.

May we all be found with unveiled eyes to see the important things in this life that we now live for Christ.