Have you seen the homeless? What is your picture? Do you see the “crazy” man talking to himself at the street corner asking for handouts? Do you see a woman with too many coats on in the middle of summer pushing a grocery cart full of her home? Why is it that when we pull up to an intersection and there is a guy there “flying the sign” do we look away? Why can we not look him in the eye? Why can we not acknowledge that this man is here? We force him to ask, “Do you see me?”
My guess is that in part we have trouble looking at these men and women, because it hurts too much too look upon their suffering. It tears our hearts out to see someone who will not sleep with a roof over their heads nor a family to go home to. Instead of deep compassion we look away in fear. We justify the fear by remembering horror movies or by even blaming these men and women. It is true that most have made choices that have gotten them there, on the side of the road. However, does that mean that we can be compassionless?
Let me help us look at this a different way. I believe strongly that we should not negotiate with terrorists. However, things change if my son or daughter were among the hostages. I would want to do whatever it took to get them safe. Even if they had put themselves in that situation I would not lose compassion for them, nor would I quit praying for their safety. Yes, I might even negotiate for them.
These homeless men and women are our neighbors. They are our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers. Can we look at them in love?
Your challenge this week: Meet a real homeless person. Talk to them. Ask them to tell you their story. Listen, ask follow up questions. Really strive to get to know them. Ask about their family and friends.
- Do not do this alone.
- Do not give them money; but do direct them to the closest Rescue Shelter.
- Understand that they may not be telling you the whole truth. Lying is a survival tool.
- Works best if you pretend that this person is actually Jesus in disguise.
- Read Matthew 22:36-40 first
Then email me your results. Tell me your story. How did it go? What did you discover? How did God use you? firstname.lastname@example.org