Homelessness in Lubbock is, as of last year, officially a million dollar business. Just a decade ago, the numbers of homeless people living on our streets were so small, the average citizen didn’t know we even had a problem. But today, our city hosts about 500, and that number keeps growing.
Lubbock, with a church on every corner, now hosts three or four major organizations that house, feed, clothe, and provide numerous other vital services to the needy. Those organizations are not the church, but they do this work on behalf of the church. And they now do it with a million dollar budget and media hype.
This is a good thing. Right?
I will definitely say yes to that every time a hungry person is fed. I will say yes, it is a good thing, every time the naked is clothed. Yes, it is a very good thing every time the sick are nursed back to health. These are undeniably good things, and I thank God for these services every day.
But I am asking still: Does this mean the Luke-14 Party is cancelled now?
I suppose this makes me sound like a crank. If you had asked me 10 years ago if we had a homeless problem in Lubbock, well, I would have said yes, but I was only figuring that out myself at the time. But if you had told me that in just 10 years, we would have a handful of organizations equipped with professionals and money to the tune of a million dollars all devoted to working on the problem, I would have thought that is great! Problem solved!
Never mind the other problems with just how well these programs actually work. Never mind issues with dishonesty in leadership. Never mind the concerns whether a million dollar budget might actually serve someone’s greed on the one hand while appearing charitable on the other. All those things, though legitimate concerns for nearly any large organization, also seem a little nit-picky.
But there is still this other thing: The Master sent his servant to prepare for the party. God sent his church to prepare the party. And, well, if the million dollar organization is taking care of the poor so that the church does not have to, then does that mean the party is off?
It kinda seems like a big deal… …if you read your Bible. But of course, if you don’t actually read your Bible, and if the goal really is to make a buck while providing conscience salve to rich people who don’t want to care, then it won’t be such a big deal in that case.
Agent Z answered the call last week and prepared the Lord’s Luke-14 Party, but hardly anyone came – the absence of family, friends, and church was pretty tough to take. Very sad. Predictable, it turns out (just read Luke 14), but sad. I posted on it, even emailed the link to a few people I thought should have known. I got a couple of apologies – pleading ignorance of course – but still. The general vibe is not: Oh goodness, gracious! We missed the party??? Is it too late? Will there be another? No. None of that. Just excuses… Sorry, I didn’t know…. (The one full-proof excuse.)
I wonder why I care.