Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Recently a church youth group was on a wilderness back-packing expedition and got lost. It was supposed to be a half-day trip, so they soon ran out of water in the Texas heat. One boy especially became dehydrated and seriously ill. Another hiked miles to get help, then hiked back with rescue team to show them the location. A helicopter came and took him and this now seriously ill friend to a hospital over 100 miles away. The other hikers were provided supplies and were eventually trucked out. Fortunately, the rescue was in time – the young man’s life was saved.
Nice story, so far. Right? Here is where it gets dicey. Our young hero is now in the hospital waiting room. He calls home to bring mom and dad up to date. So far so good. The boy continues his vigil, but soon realizes a predicament – he has no money, the rest of the group is still hours away, he needs food and a place to stay. The hospital staff suggests the local shelter for the night. He calls home again.
Dad goes ballistic. He calls the hospital, gives his credit card number and insists that his son be taken care of. Put him in nearby hotel till the parents can get there in the morning. Forget this Homeless Shelter stuff. Both father and son (who happened to be 17 years old and over 6′ 4″) are convinced that such a suggestion is insane. Why? The lad responds, “Hey, I don’t have anything against homeless people. I’ve done my service projects for church at the shelter at home, but I don’t need to stay with them or have them sleeping near me. Yuck!”
What do you think? I do not mean to pick on someone who is certainly a brave and courageous young man. But I don’t think it is proper to have an attitude that says it is all right, even GOOD, to HELP the “riff-raff” but that to actually stay overnight with them, receive the same help as them, be on the same level as they are, is dangerous and disgusting. Somewhere along the line, people hear the message that we are called to help, but then miss the part about Jesus identifying HIMSELF with those in need of that help. The real help… the help that offers the ability to overcome is brought about by people who take the time to really understand who these people are and what they are going through. Remember Matthew 25? “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to ME!” We find out who Jesus is when we find out who they are.
Dear Lord, I must admit that sometimes we have a problem with those in need of help… we wonder how they got there, what is keeping them there, are they really conning us, and even more. I don’t like thinking that way. I hope that is not part of my character. Help me, Lord to care, really care for all your children… no matter what. In and through Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace