Here is a scene from the streets (an alley actually) of Lubbock last winter.
Will history repeat itself?
I put out prayer requests to churches around town last week on their websites – those that have prayer request sites. I asked for prayer and for those churches to consider hosting street homeless during cold weather.
It appears I was ignored by all but one. (To be fair, some of them might be praying without sending me an email response.)
The one that did respond only responded negatively and argumentatively. (Hey, at least I was taken seriously and engaged! … and not only that, but with actual Scripture too! … but negatively nonetheless.) The passage in Matthew 25 about Judgment for how we treat the poor was acknowledged, but dismissed by suggesting it only applies to “brothers” and not random people from the streets.
Wow! You have to be a member of that church on the streets before that church will help you? Does that ring true with Jesus? What do you think?
Of course the responder totally misconstrued my request as a ploy to get money. I made no such request. But the response was largely about that and denied me money that I did not ask for. It ended with a quote from 2nd Thessalonians 3:10, where St. Paul says, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”
That is a powerful verse. I cannot deny that it is the very Word of God. And it is one that gets trotted out frequently to defend a stance against loving the homeless. But this is a deeply mistaken application and misuse of that verse – in my view. (I must respect that others will hold a different view, but I expect that its meaning and usefulness is a matter of debate. Also, I am actually thrilled to have a response that seeks God’s Word on these matters. So often, “Christians” don’t even bother!)
I will not explicate a proper use of that verse at this time, but I will note that it is not a blanket directive for all people on all occasions. We don’t use this verse to deny sick people food, for instance. And many of those living on the streets suffer with various illnesses that prevent them from working. Therefore, a blanket denial of loving street people by way of this verse is actually very unloving and reveals a hard heart.
What about cold & flu? What about alcoholism and drug addiction? What about mental illness of various kinds? What about war-related PTSD? Would you deny a veteran food if he is out of work and on the streets after he “defends” your nation?
Back to my questions at the start of this post. WWJD? and Will history repeat itself this winter in Lubbock?
Thank God for Restoring Hope, Paul’s Project, and the other 501c3’s that are out there doing the Lord’s work, because without them making the church look good, no one would (I think).