Recently, I texted my friend Angela about what the Bible says concerning giving money to the homeless. I was conflicted about scripture, and unsure of whether it actually helps to give money to the homeless, given that some individuals can use charitable contributions in a way that never helps them move forward.
Though Angela and I vowed to talk about it in person, I’ve kind of already answered my own question. I believe in giving to the needy. I believe in giving regardless of whether need is a lifestyle, a season, a personal choice, or the result of a tidal force, like systemic racism. Like how I am commanded to give grace in exchange for sin, Christ teaches me to give regardless of people’s righteousness, because their unrighteousness is as my own. None of us deserve Jesus. And neglecting to give just denies the need to care, or to actively be in search of a solution so that justice can come forth. I don’t want to be that kind of a person.
A couple of years ago, I met a friend on study abroad in Chile who changed how I consider this entire problem. I volunteered with her chatting with homeless patrons of a soup kitchen, as they ate their evening meal. She has such deep love for the homeless. Her passion and the desire to serve with her challenged me to use my language skills to make that a possible, and has continually thereafter.
We had a falling out before she left, and there is hurt on either side that remains to this day. I remember Christ’s teachings; I want to reconcile. I don’t think she wants that, which is really hard. I care about all the people I have been friends with. Once I care for somebody, they remain in my heart and memory always. So for the time being, I’m in a rather tricky place.
But I remember her love for the homeless. I remember how much she was ready to sacrifice in order to serve, and how much I learned coming with her. I remember how God was able to bless us and the people we served through those moments of hit and miss communication, and I remember his presence over us.
All that my heart desires is that in my life, forgiveness would be spread out like a banquet. That like Christ, people could find the kind of counsel and support they hunger and thirst after in my actions and words. I am not Jesus, but he helps me be like him, piece by piece. So I have an idea.
I know that her love of the homeless didn’t just come out of the sky for no reason. She loves the needy like Jesus. I personally have trouble giving to people in situations of homelessness. The need overwhelms me. However, since I can’t support her either for now or for however long, I will serve the homeless. I love Jesus. I know this desire comes from him. If I can’t be her friend, then I will be a friend to the people she loves. These are her people. Maybe they can be my people too, and I can live to serve them as I would anyone else. It makes a lot more sense that way.
Instead of being sad over the end of a friendship, I’m going to live in way that celebrates the passions of the people I care about, regardless of if they are still with me. I honor them and I honor Christ when I serve the people they love on this earth. This is a much more organic and kind solution to friend loss than anything else. I struggle to not care for people after they or I have been hurt, so this just takes the love I have for them and donates it in the form of a living solution. If I love Jesus, and I care for her, then surely I can care for others in remembrance of Christ, and other people I have loved.
Let the Lord teach me my own need.