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Feed the hungry whether we think they deserve it or not. There is a tendency amongst people, religious or not, to have some sort of issue with people receiving food stamps. And the way the system “works”, if you make a penny more than the maximum allowable income to be eligible for assistance, it simply means that you are one cent too rich. The reality is that you work your butt off at one or two jobs to make ends meet. And standing in line in front of you at the grocery store is someone walking out of the door with 400 dollars worth of “free” food while you are trying to stretch 200 dollars between a family of six.
So the “obvious” feelings are anger or disgust. Yet, God never intended for His people to rely on any government, AKA “tax dollars”, to feed people. His plan calls for people to feed people. Sharing and giving; not out of abundance, but sacrifice.
Rebellion at it’s best.
I live near Joplin, Missouri. I have significant roots there. It is a city that I have rode the roller-coaster of life in for years. On May 22nd of 2011, an EF-5 tornado wiped out a third of the city. At least 160 lives were lost in just a few minutes. By some estimation, it was the largest tornado in recorded history. Following this “event”, people from all over the world rallied to Joplin’s aid. The record books do a fine job of recording the many efforts applied to assist the people of Joplin.
Personally, I was part of the initial search and rescue effort. As a trained Emergency Medical Technician, as well as a minister, I did what I could to help. In the days following the impact, various groups including churches, set up a multitude of aid stations to help victims as well as volunteers. It was interesting to see the different approaches and focuses. It almost seemed like a city-wide tail-gate party in some respects. As I made the rounds to the different outreach spots, I noticed the one thing that they all seemed to have in common.
Water is vital to life. Jesus even went so far as to point out the giving of it as a “qualifier” to receiving the inheritance of Heaven. In a later chapter, I will share with you how I personally have used a simple bottle of water to lead people to him.
But if we are honest and when it gets down to it, we in this country don’t give water much of a thought. We tend to take it for granted.
Odds are, if you are reading this, you may not give shelter much of a thought either. By shelter, I mean your home. Oh, if you are wondering how you are going to pay your rent or mortgage payment, you may give it some consideration. But all in all, we more or less take it for granted.
The person sleeping in a doorway doesn’t take it for granted, I can assure you. The family of five living in their car, that’s currently in repo, doesn’t take it for granted. When I have crashed from home to home, from couch to couch and at one time lived in a van, I can guarantee you that I did not take it for granted.
Jesus says to take the stranger in. He understood exactly what that meant because He bounced from house to house, depending on others to help Him out. I am pretty certain that if you heard a knock on your door tonight and opened it to find Jesus standing there, you would invite Him in. Anyone else though, especially a stranger, and the idea seems preposterous. The Bible tells us to be kind to strangers, because by doing so we may be entertaining angels.(Hebrews 13:2)
Matthew 25 speaks about these things as well as clothing people, comforting the sick and encouraging prisoners. All of these acts require us to step out of what we know. Out of our comfort level. Out of our religious box. They require us to behave in a manner that is not “normal.” Beyond the status-quo.
To actually do what Jesus has called us to.
Deny myself. Hate my family. Love my enemies. Give when I do not think I have enough.
It requires faith. It requires Love. A faith and love that we must admit we are unable to pull off by ourselves. We need Him to flow into us. We need Him to flow out of us. It requires rebelling against everything that we think is correct.
Yes, there is something about a rebel that appeals to a certain part of us. But unless it is able to appeal to the heart of us, it’s nothing more than a misguided use of a status symbol.