Loving Your Neighbor
The last book I finished reading was Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski. It is about the journey a college student, Mike, and his friend, Sam, made after deciding to live in four major US cities as a homeless person for five months. He was specifically interested to see the Church’s response to persons afflicted by homelessness.
I learned a great deal from this book and highly recommend it for reading. The author helps you more clearly understand what life on the streets is like and the variety of reasons different individuals end up there. Yankoski gives practical steps that one can take to take action and be the presence of Christ on the streets.
So today the opportunity presented itself fo rme. And I stepped out in love.
A homeless gentleman in town that I have often seen with his dog was sitting bundled up with a cardboard sign that read "Looking for Work". I do not have any work for him to do but after reading the book I realized I could offer at the very least a meal.
I went to Quizno’s nearby and purchased a giftcard for $10.00 and took it to him. He was very grateful, I spoke a blessing over him, patted his dog and left.
I do not mention this for boasting or self-praise for I understand better today than I did yesterday that God loves me no more for the deed done today just as God loves me no less for the unfortunate deeds I’ve done yesterday and will do tomorrow.
Two or three years ago I gave this same man a sandwich. I had just been to Subway, purchased my lunch, and was driving home. I experienced a sense of guilt, compassion and obligation as I saw him sitting there. It was a mixture of all three feelings but I could not say that they were present in equal amounts. I gave him my sandwich, drove away, and felt good and right about what I’d done.
Today was different. I had the initial feelings of guilt, compassion and obligation as I drove past him but as I sat at the stoplight contemplating what to do, love won out.
I love that man. And his little dog, too. 🙂 I wanted him to feel love today and to be given the respect of acknowledgement. Today there was such freedom in the choice to give. God loves me no more or no less. I don’t do it out of guilt or obligation. I don’t do it to feel like a better Christian.
I do it because of love.
Which is why I’m also grieving a little now. And why I’m dependent on grace.
Because I love him, I regret that I did not sit longer to visit. I regret that I didn’t invite him to join me for lunch and give him the dignity of conversation and fellowship.
God loves me no less. I don’t feel guilt or failure. I’m just keenly aware that I missed out on lunch with Jesus today.