Do you remember that scene in the movie The King’s Speech when Myrtle Logue recognizes the day of her visitation from King George? Yeah! He (along with his bride, the queen) shows up unannounced as if they were mere commoners (even more humble than that, really), and it gives Mr. and Mrs. Logue a shock to the system!
I must advise you:
WHEN JESUS DROPS IN ON YOU THAT SHOCK IS APPROPRIATE!
Don’t believe me? Have you not read how the two disciples on the road to Emmaus hosted Jesus unaware??? (Luke 24:28-32). Yeah, and in this case he appeared as a sojourning bum! This is not the only time in Scripture where God appears as a homeless bum passing by and some hero of the faith invites him to dinner; see Abraham host the three strangers trespassing his front yard by the Oaks of Mamre (Gen. 18:1-21). The writer of our Book of Hebrews likewise informs us that if we host strangers, we might entertain angels and not even know it! (Heb. 13:2).
How much would you pay? How much vacuum cleaner would you run? How much dusting of the fine China, putting away of the clutter, and maybe even touching up with fresh paint would you do if you thought Jesus was coming to dinner?
Well… get ready! “Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If you open up, I will come in and eat with you!” (Rev. 3:20). And of course, he tells us plainly in Matthew 25:40 that the stranger among “the least of these … brothers (and sisters)” we tend to and take in our homes are him!
People! This isn’t rocket surgery! Real basic Bible, actually!
Here at Fat Beggars School of Prophets, I find myself frequently confronting both the lack of homeless ministry on the one hand and the misguided nature of it on the other. I keep challenging the blind and deaf church who sees without understanding, who hears but does not listen (Isa. 6:10; Matt. 13:15) to open their doors to the Matthew-25 Jesus! The open door is the goal; the criticism of method is all about dispelling the fantasy that our current strategy is working. It is not. But that doesn’t mean there’s no method in the madness.
I say “madness”, not just because it is a catchy cliché, but because I know that when I quote Proverbs 31 (where we are instructed to actually give booze to the destitute) or Mark 10 (where at least one rich guy was instructed to sell all he owned, give it to the poor, count his riches in heaven after that and then follow Jesus), to those ears that cannot hear and to those eyes that cannot see the invitation sounds like chaos and looks like a foolish stumbling block. Who in their right mind wants to pursue that???
Sure I use Bible, but I must have misappropriated it! Surely God does not want us to endorse poverty and help laziness and lack of discipline takeover of the poor and vulnerable! Surely Proverbs 31 doesn’t mean what it says. Surely St. Paul is after all talking about street bums when he tells the Thessalonians that if they won’t work, neither will they eat! We need a more balanced understanding of these passages (perhaps something a little more Republican and less Democrat), so we close our ears to the Fat Beggars message and turn a blind eye to “least of these” at our door.
Am I promoting a middle ground?
Am I suggesting a third way as of yet unseen?
It’s like a third way, but really its not even that, because I am pointing you in the direction of the things you fear and hold in contempt, but insisting that FAITH in God as you go there will lead to JOY beyond comprehension (kinda like crucifixion surely was for Jesus (Heb. 12:2)).
The disciples on that road to Emmaus, the moment they realized that the stranger from the road they had invited in was actually the risen Savior of the world, suddenly became flooded with a JOY you can’t put a price tag on! They tell us, in verse 32 that their “hearts were burning within” them! And that Holy Heartburn is a gift from God – a touch of Heaven breaking in your life in surprising ways!
My aim in recent posts is to help readers peek behind the veil. I have communed with street bums in alleys, empty lots, and city parks, under “No Trespassing” signs, and in front of locked up church-house doors. And when the homeless themselves get moved by the Spirit of God and start praying, preaching (sometimes really good sermons too!), sharing, dreaming, hoping, prophesying, and sharing songs (one lady wrote praise songs while in prison and taught them to us in an alley behind a liquor store), you begin to have that Holy Heartburn! When you hold a communion service with a circle of bums on their knees on a sidewalk along a busy street and a car load of women screech a dangerous U-Turn in heavy traffic and skid to a stop, pile out and say that they “could see something important was happening” there, you get the Holy Heartburn! When busy people passing by stop to ask if you are a Christian and if you can pray for them – EVEN WHEN IT APPEARS YOU HAVE NOTHING IN THIS WORLD! – you get a case of Holy Heartburn! And when you get this Holy Heartburn a few times on the streets, but never experience it in church NOR see others experiencing it there, you begin to think its not right to keep it to yourself (II Kings 7:9).
Perhaps we need to ask God to “open the eyes of our heart” because we have been looking and looking and not seeing Jesus because we have been blinded by our contempt – the same contempt through which those religious leaders who mocked him as he hung on a cross could not see and recognize the day of their visitation.
The method in the madness then is to go behind the veil trusting Jesus, taking him at his word. That is him you are either loving or not.