… why don’t I minister to the poor.
I really want to develop this a bit more, but I here is where I think I am right now in this discussion…
1. No matter what I do, vis-à-vis “the poor”, my motives are touched by my sinful heart. So that whether I give a bum a dollar or send a five spot to the mission I fail to love as I ought. On one hand I am doing the absolute minimum for the poor and on the other I am keeping my distance from an untouchable man or woman. I am pathetic, I know that.
2. The closer I am to a person the more difficult it is to give cash to that man or woman in need. If I read about children living in a garbage dump in Cambodia I ‘know; what they need. They need money; I should send them cash right away.
But, as the needs get closer to home the more difficult (complicated?) it becomes. We don’t have children living in garbage dumps here, but we do have the chronically homeless man or woman. They need money too, but I am aware of opportunities for them to work, eat and receive other help. So, I begin to despise them, believing that they are somehow more deserving of their suffering than the children in Cambodia. The question then becomes how do I best represent Christ to them?
I think the best we can give is our time and interaction. Stooping to meet their needs by providing them food with conversation and a little human contact seems the best. I think Josh, Matt (over at www.theCedarRoom.org) and the others make a good point when they ask, “what does love look like to a bum?” Perhaps it does look like $5.00 with a verbal blessing, but I don’t think it can stop there. If we don’t help them out of their sin I don’t think we are ministering the best that Christ has to offer. Do we believe that drunks will not inherit the kingdom? Are we seeking to give them the kingdom at all? (Gal 5)
Let’s bring this even closer… If your flesh and blood brother was an addict, let’s say using cocaine, and he came to you every day asking for money. Would you be showing the love of Christ by giving him the cash? I don’t think so. Offering him a place to live (for awhile), food to eat and loving him out of his addiction is being Christ to him.
But, see how closeness to my brother precludes me giving him cash? I know his wife and children. I see what the drugs are doing to them and I know that any money I give could end up killing my brother, whom I love. Who would want that? The bum on the street is someones son, brother, husband, father… What are we doing to them with our five bucks?
3. Lastly, those who work with the poor and homeless on a daily basis recommend that we not give to the bum on the street. Those who have given their life to helping the poorest of the poor in this country believe it just does not help in the end.
One of the things the shelters, agencies and soup kitchens do is prevent the rich in stealing from the poor. That is what the girl is doing in this video. She is stealing from the poor and those less fortunate than herself. Notice the lady who lives in a trailer, being tricked into giving the wealthy girl money. Also notice how heartbroken her mother is…
and complicated all around.