Jesus the Homeless

Homeless Jesus

Jesus the Homeless – statue in Toronto, Canada

I came across a picture of Jesus the Homeless while browsing the internet today.  I have to say it touched me deeply.  It instantly brought to mind the times I have encountered people while walking who have asked me for money.  It’s always a confusing time for me because I feel guilty when I say no, but hesitant to say yes.  We have undoubtedly all heard stories that we shouldn’t give to “beggars” because they’ll probably just spend the money on booze or drugs, and of course there are also the stories of professional “beggars” who go home to beautiful homes and expensive cars, all bought with money earned from begging.

So what do we do?  Say yes or no?  I now always say no when approached on the street, but still not without at least a small amount of guilt.  Yet I know that there are soup kitchens and shelters where people can go so that they are at least not hungry and not without a place to sleep.  I know because my Dad used these services.  Check out my story with my Dad here.  My Dad was schizophrenic and was the unfortunate victim of online scams and he always gave away all of his money.  Giving him cash would never help him because he would always give it away.  Yet he would eat at soup kitchens (he knew where the best ones were) and eventually ended up in a shelter until we were able to find a place for him in a home.  Because of my dealings with my Dad I am reluctant to give cash to a beggar knowing it might not be used for necessities.

So what can we do to help the poor?  There are some easy things we can do.  Donate money to organizations whose goals are to serve the poor.  Give food to a food bank.  Donate used clothing and household items to stores who resell at a much reduced price.  These are all good and necessary ways to help.

I’d like to share a bit about how I have been able to help.  I don’t usually have much money to spare so I try to find other ways to help.  My kids and I host a week at a local farm with cottages and a pool that offer vacations to families that would otherwise not be able to afford a vacation with their kids.  We organize activities and help out, but mostly we build relationships and have fun making sure everyone is enjoying themselves.  This is the highlight of our summer.  A local lady trying to get herself off of welfare started a second hand clothing store and I always make sure to drop off our clothes to her so that she can have first choice for her store.  There are a few people around town that I take the time to talk to and listen to when I bump into them that are often overlooked or even avoided.  They usually have great stories to tell and I enjoy our visits.  At Christmas, we like to provide a family with a Christmas meal and gifts.  We usually do this through a local group that has a list of families in need.  I was once able to buy a take out meal for a beggar instead of giving him money.  My husband and I met while we were both participating in prison ministry through our church.

The statue of Jesus the Homeless brought to mind the fact that we shouldn’t ignore someone who is homeless.  We may not be able to help everyone we meet, but it is important to see the person behind the situation.  What brought them to the place they are in now?  Maybe it was illness, unemployment, depression, dissolved relationships, low paying jobs, prison, bad decisions.  It is easy to make a quick judgement but more important to take the time to listen and to be a friend.  Remember that Jesus is inside each person.  Find the Jesus in them and share Jesus with them. It is through us that others will experience Jesus’ love and compassion.

1john316-18

How have you been able to help the poor?

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2 thoughts on “Jesus the Homeless

  1. There are hundreds, probably thousands, maybe millions of ways to “help” the beggars. Depends on how bad you want to do it. Giving money is neither bad to do nor the best. So what if a bum wastes the money? That is the bum’s problem, not yours. Jesus said to give to all who ask (Luke 6:30) and told at least one rich guy to sell all he had, give it to the poor, count his riches in heaven and come follow (Mark 10:21). Giving money is not the problem. (btw, go look at Luke 1:53 while you are at it.)

    That said, giving money is the easy way out. Think about it. You can buy this bum off with a dollar, and then he is not your problem! You can buy him off with $100, and he is no longer your problem. You can feel smug that you did your part, send him packing and move on.

    But even then, giving the money is not the problem.

    The problem is whether you love Jesus (and by virtue of that the poor too (Matt. 25:40)). Sometimes giving money is all you have. Sometimes it really helps. You can’t engineer that. But if you have the time and money, which let’s face it – if you were standing before God on Judgment Day and he asked if you had time and money, what would your answer be? – then you could take a meal to the bum. You could take the bum down to McDonalds and SHARE the meal with him. You could invite the bum to your HOME to eat. You could invite the bum to your church to sleep. And you could invite the bum to stay in your empty guest bedroom tonight. And each time you do that, you are doing it for Jesus (Matt. 25:40). How bad do you want to love Jesus?

    That is the problem. He is difficult, demanding, and troublesome. He won’t make your life neat and tidy by some GOOD HOUSEKEEPING standards. He certainly was not housebroken in the temple that day he drove everyone out of his father’s house with a whip! Whose house do you live in? Yours? or does it belong to God? Does he rule over it? or do you?

    Do I sound dangerous?

    Yes, I do. But if you follow Jesus, you will pick up a cross to follow. You don’t come back from that trip. You go on to the other side.

    That said, you are not alone. You belong to a church. And your church is in this together with you. I do not advocate that a single woman with kids, a grandma, or anyone for that matter just take in any old bum any old time. But our church building is God’s House, not ours. And he is Lord there, not us. And he wants his bums cared for whether we do or not. And we will answer for how we handle them (Matt. 25 AGAIN!) And our church really can re-appropriate property to take care of those who lack (Acts 2:44-45). And that can be as simple as appointing a couple of volunteers to chaperone a handful of bums down at the building – perhaps the family life center – tonight and a couple more tomorrow night.

    We can disciple those bums and find out who among them we can trust to take home to our guest bedrooms as they turn their lives around – no matter how long that takes. We can even disciple them to disciple other bums in turn. And with this kind of a START we can transform the world, live for Jesus, and take him in. Thus we can stand with the sheep in the judgment and not with the goats.

    But that means we have to LOVE Jesus – not just say we do. How do you invite Jesus into your heart but not invite a homeless man into your HOME? I know I hope Jesus never asks me that question.

    Let us expand our imaginations to a size that maybe God might fit into them.

    Blessings from Texas

    Agent X
    Fat Beggars School of Prophets
    Lubbock, Texas

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