Today I was walking into church (I won’t say which one) when I saw a homeless man. I watched for a few seconds as every person walked past the guy as if he was invisible. I spoke to the man, who seemed to be a little angry. I don’t know if he was or not. It just seemed that way.
He had one of the churches cards in his hands. As I went into the church I was still thinking about the man. It was the second service I was attending. Just as it began I decided to go back out and talk to the man, maybe buy him breakfast or something, but he was already gone.
Even as I was walking out there I wondered about the people coming in and the people who were leaving. Were they even concerned? Did it even cross their minds that someone just outside the church doors was homeless and maybe hungry? It bothered me. Did they all think their duty to God had been fulfilled because they were in church doing whatever they considered “serving God?” How shallow we the Christian west are. I wish I had immediately offered the man my company, and maybe a meal. I feel ashamed. May the Lord forgive us all.
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 didn’t take Me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me. ’ “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You? ’ “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either. ’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal
life.” (Matt 25:42-46)
How many of us will find ourselves on the left side with the goats? We thought we were doing God’s work by going to church, raising our hands, speaking in tongues, shouting our praise to God, as we pass on the streets people in need; people who are hungry, dirty, homeless? We pretend we don’t see them. Jesus is saying that whatever we do to these, we are doing, or not doing, to Him.
I heard Darin Hufford say once that you can only love God by loving people. In the first part of the parable I shared above, you find Jesus praising those on His right for feeding Him when he was hungry, giving him a drink when he was thirsty, providing him a place to stay when he didn’t have anywhere, clothing him when he was naked, and visiting him when he was in prison and sick. When they wanted to know when they had done all of these things for him, he said that “when you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” So we cannot serve God without serving and loving people.
In Romans 5 Paul says that the Holy Spirit has poured out the love of God in our hearts. How many of us ignore the Spirit’s urgings when they come? At the beginning of this article, I described what I see as I’m walking into church, and I’m wondering about the people who are coming and going, whether or not they were pretending not to see the homeless man, and what their feelings about him were. Perhaps they were wondering the same thing about others who were passing by, including me.
While I was wondering about others, could there have been the urging of the love of God in me? Of course, there was! That’s why the man was on my mind. When I finally decided to obey the urge and go outside, the man was already gone. Perhaps, hopefully, someone else who didn’t ignore the Spirit of God, actually took the man to lunch, bought him some things he might have needed; maybe even took him home with them so he could have a shower; wash his clothes, allowing him to feel human again. I certainly hope so. I would hate to think that among all of the people going in and out of that church, that no one answered the call.
As I said before, I felt ashamed, and I feel ashamed now. However, I will have another chance, as will all of us, to do the right thing. May we all be more sensitive to the urgings of the Holy Spirit within us. Our God is love, so, don’t be surprised when you get the urge to help someone; give to someone; feed someone, or, just be good company to a stranger.