There is a man outside a store I frequently shop. He stands right where traffic can see him best and holds a sign that is easy to read.
“Need Help. God Bless.”
It’s clear what he wants and although I am sure many avoid looking at him, his sign is direct. It is a pleading call to action from those around him. Saying he can’t do this on his own. Asking for you to share in his responsibility even though it’s not your own.
It’s easy to pass him by as you fiddle with the radio stations or shuffle through items on the front seat. I know because I’ve done it. I’ve clearly stated through my side window glass as he searches my face, “you are not my responsibility. I’m just trying to feed MY family and take care of the ones that I have been entrusted with.”
When did I get to decide that only a select few were my responsibility?
As a Christian can I justify this behavior when the sign is so clear in front of me on a torn piece of cardboard? What about the gossip I hear around me of someone who is struggling and probably at the end of their hope?
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great
commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:37-39).
Love. It is a responsibility that God has commanded us to have. A love that doesn’t just look within our own walls, but a love so consuming that it reaches past our front door. A love that takes the time to read the signs around us, to meet the needs of the struggling and to show a love in me that is so full of grace and compassion that they know something bigger is working through me. Our most basic responsibility as people who are Christ-like is to love others.
Unlike tossing a $20 in the collection plate or showing up to a Bible Study, this responsibility requires an inward change at our very core. It demands that we let go of our selfish desires and take responsibility for what He has asked us to do. It is when we allow this change that the ability to extend mercy beyond our previous definitions of responsibility begins to occur. We can’t help but want to reach out and touch as many as we can. After all, Jesus gave His very life for everyone because of His intense love. It wasn’t because we deserved it. It wasn’t because He had a select group of people in mind that were worthy. It was for all. Everyone with no exclusions.
How can we possibly sit contently in a world that is crying out and wrecked all around us?
How do we sit around in our comfort to discuss and judge who is worthy of our time, compassion and money in the safety zone of good Christian compassion?
His life and love that was sacrificed and freely offered to us was never given to us to invest in where we see fit and who we deem worthy. Every person that you cross, every child going hungry and every man on a street corner with a sign is someone that Jesus gave His life for.
A quick Google search informed me that about 2.8 billion (read that again….BILLION) people profess Christianity as their religion. 2.8 billion people cling to a faith that very clearly holds up a sign in front of us commanding that we love our neighbors, yet how many people in the earth are struggling with food, shelter and no hope? Google told me about 3 billion people on Earth live in poverty. If we – the 2.8 billion – decided to allow the responsibility of loving our neighbors – the 3 billion – to change our hearts and take the responsibility of loving and caring for someone other than ourselves and our immediate family, what could we do for the whole world? What could you do in your city, your community?
It’s going to take people who are willing to say “I will love my neighbor – regardless of their faith, their bad decisions or their circumstance” to start a change. It’s going to take someone reading the sign and realizing that helping IS their responsibility.