Read this scripture this morning and it got me writing:
I met Shane while pushing Skye (my now 13-year-old daughter) through the mall. She dropped her sippy cup and Shane picked it up and handed it back to her. His smile was infectious. It did not take keen observation skills to see that Shane was homeless. His clothes were filthy. He had an odor on him that was repulsive, yet I found myself drawn to him in some strange way. I asked him about his story and he proceeded to tell me a bit about himself. I still see Shane around town. He takes odd jobs and I stop and talk with him every once in a while and just share a bit of life with him. Just show him a bit of the love of God. I have invited him to come to church, have even prayed with him.. not saying any of this to pat myself on the back.. read on.. you will see what I am getting at.
I was 18 years old and had been living on the streets for almost 4 months when I knocked on my friend’s door. His father answered the door and invited me in with zero hesitation. Soon after I entered their home his wife asked if I was hungry. They both treated me as if I was just coming over for a visit and that I was part of the family. It was quite obvious by my appearance, (and my odor) that I was homeless. It was quite obvious by my sunken cheekbones that I had not had a good meal in a while. It seemed to not faze them one bit. I still feel a warm sense of genuine human kindness in my soul when I think of it. I was in no way “deserving” of kindness. It was my own actions that had brought me to my current state of homelessness. They were under no obligation to show me any kindness, yet they did. They sort of partook of my own sufferings with me. They didn’t look down on me and treat me as if I was a burden, they loved on me. They opened their home to me…and quite literally they saved my life.. my actual, physical life. I had been living on the streets, and they took me in. How beautiful would it be if we all treated each other this way?
I have been accused of being too big of a “dreamer” at times. I tend to lean slightly optimistic and simplistic in my mindsets. Don’t get me wrong, I have wrestled the angel of pessimism often. The realist in me has tried to bully me too.. but somehow, the optimism wins every time. I have a dream that the church will rise up and love others in BIG ways. I dream of the church being so much like God in the way they love others that it literally starts a revival in people’s hearts. I have a dream of the church being so involved in loving their communities that bickering about government involvement in welfare, hunger, homelessness is obsolete. I dream of the church not striving to be the latest and greatest building or organization.. but that they would strive to be the greatest at showing God’s love to others. How different would our communities look if we stopped shutting doors on anything and anyone we feel even the slightest bit of uncomfortableness with. What would it look like if the Church was known for its love? How much more would the hearts be open to who God is and what He has for their life if we actually lived out what we believe.. and but he way.. also what we RECEIVED. I don’t know about you.. but I was a MESS of a person when I gave my life to Jesus. I was a stinky literally), scantily dressed, foul-mouthed, angry, smoking, drinking, drug addicted, atheist when I had Jesus start to change my life. How different would it have been if the pastor in that little church in Detroit had not put his arm around me (see description above.. i am quite sure I made him nervous.. I had cursed him out up and down, was banned from doing drugs in the bathroom of the church.. not a person he was probably comfortable with) and show me love. He partook in my suffering with me. He walked it with me and showed me what Jesus was all about. It was the single most important interaction with another human being I have ever had. I dream of the church being love like that. Of being willing to walk with the broken, talk to the outcast. Put our arms around those who might make us uncomfortable and be willing to see them and love them like Jesus does. My optimistic self dreams of this. It starts with just one person, and then the ripple effect happens. Who else has this dream? Who else has had their life so radically changed by the love of Jesus that they can not stand by and watch others not know the same life changing love? Want to join me? If we want to change the world we have to be willing to do what Jesus said.. Love God with all you are and love others. It really… really is that simple.