Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog called Why I Ignore the Homeless and in it vowed to make some changes. Since then I’ve been serving in areas I rarely drive through let alone get out of my car. I’ve been honked at and yelled at multiple times and hugged by strangers grateful that I’ve shown up. I’ve cleaned up a dead mouse, scrubbed a toilet and prayed with some of the most godly, humble and wise men and women I’ve met in a long time. I’ve seen wealthy suburban types serving alongside me, millennials working with passion and purpose and I’ve taken my children to wash windows and scrub cabinets in a part of town that scares me a little.
What have I been learning?
1. I love basketball more than Jesus.
A friend was telling me about “core beliefs,” not what we think or say we believe, but rather the beliefs we operate out of. They are what motivate us to do or fail to do. I believe I love Jesus and want to help the homeless, but I don’t help them because I’m attending my kids’ (third) basketball game (that week). What is my core belief? I’m more concerned I’m not a good mom if I miss any of my kids’ activities than I am about obeying Christ’s directives to help the poor.
If that wasn’t enough hard soul searching I also had this Spirit inspired thought. Would I be able to stand in front of Christ one day and tell Him I couldn’t help the poor He told me to help because I was at another cross country meet?
2. I wish the poor didn’t live so far from my suburban home.
What are my holy thoughts while serving the poor? I don’t like scrubbing toilets. I don’t like cleaning a dirty third floor apartment with no air conditioning. I don’t like driving a half an hour one-way to get to where the poor are (even though I will drive an hour to basketball, no questions asked).
I want to help the people Christ tells me to love, but I’m learning that until my motivation stems from what Christ has given me at the cross, the inconvenient, unglamorous and unappealing things involved in showing up repeatedly (I’m good at showing up once) will keep me doing other “good” things instead (basketball games, weeding and making sure my kids aren’t ever bored).
3. It’s not about me.
I believe Christ died for me despite what I do or don’t do. I’m not going to hell because I didn’t help the poor or went to my daughter’s band concert instead of a prayer meeting. I’m going to heaven because God loved me enough to send His Son to pay the price my shortcomings.
What am I learning about helping the poor?
A lot about my own poverty apart from Christ.