Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"I was thirsty..."

  “I was thirsty

    and you gave

    me something

    to drink.”  - Matthew 25:35 

There is no denying the vast disparity of wealth and opportunity in this country.  I come face-to-face with it every time I pull up next to someone standing at an intersection, asking.  Physically, he’s an arm’s-length away.  Socioeconomically, he’s so far off as to be almost invisible.  The stark difference between our experiences of life could almost make us unrecognizable to one another.  I think of how I might look to people of great financial wealth, even as I wonder how I must look to this one on the roadside, asking. 
I have struggled with how to be helpful.  I’m done handing out cash to people I don’t know.  But I am convicted in these times by the gravity of what Jesus says to me:  “As you do to the least of these, you do to me.”   My calling, our calling, is to see the face of Christ in the suffering.  It is to realize that the eyes of Christ stare at us from the faces on the roadside … the panhandlers, the homeless veterans, the mentally ill and physically disabled, pregnant women, dispossessed men, the young and the old. 
I’m not naïve; I know the problems that put these people on the street are complex, with no easy solutions.  And I am working in my own ways, individually and collectively, to tackle these problems.  But I’m called to act in the moment, too; to bring immediate relief where I can.  That’s why I am so grateful to the kids of Abiding Love for making relief kits.  There is so much I can’t do by the side of the road.  But I can share some comfort with a fellow traveler.  It will take all of us to make systemic changes that will eliminate poverty and homelessness in this country and, by God, we need to be about that work in earnest!  But there is something I can do, in the moment – even just a cup of water for a thirsty soul – and, yes, a smile and a word of encouragement.  To say, You matter.  You are a child of God and a person of dignity and value, just like me, and what happens to you matters.  You, looking at me with the eyes of Christ, standing on the roadside, asking.


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