Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Confession for the Church.

There were about 70-80 well-dressed, "appropriately adorned," monetarily secure and even affluent individuals conversing, smiling, and mingling while circling the San Diego Bay on a dessert cruise. Cheesecake and chocolate truffles had been served along with coffee and much remained to be eaten. The cruise was a type of celebration or at least a designated time to relax and enjoy company after several days of meetings and meals in dialogue about leadership, strengths, and vision for student leadership in the way of Jesus on college campuses. After consuming the freshness of the crisp air, the sweet flavored delicacies, the lights of the city, and the warmth of relationship the boat docked.
Upon descending from the ramp connecting the boat to the city sidewalk and proceeding to the shuttle for the return trip to the hotel, there were about 70-80 well-dressed, "appropriately adorned," monetarily secure and even affluent individuals conversing, smiling, and mingling while three individuals prepared their separate "beds" on cold, hard, street-side benches. One had a shopping cart with some blankets and cardboard. As he laid down and covered up there were about 70-80 well-dressed, "appropriately adorned," monetarily secure and even affluent individuals conversing, smiling, and mingling who WALKED RIGHT BY.
The "religious elite" composed of student leaders and staff members from a theological seminary and eight "Christian" colleges WALKED RIGHT BY.
Not a word spoken.
Only a glance.
I thought for only an instant... "I should stop. I should ask if there is something I could do to help. I could catch a cab back to the hotel after having a conversation with this man."
"But everyone will see me. I don't want to appear hyper-religious or provide a poor representation of engaging people with the love of Jesus."
So I continued on.
I was part of the "religious elite" who had better things to do or at least a certain image to maintain. Meanwhile, I was hyper-religious and provided a poor representation of engaging people with the love of Jesus.
On behalf of the Church.
To the church.
I apologize.


John-Paul said...

I had a similar struggle as I walked by that night. I really felt a tugging on my heart to give my jacket to one of the men we passed. Initially, I followed it, I walked probably 5 steps back towards him to offer my jacket, but was immediately confronted by the same crowd/image/judged conflict, as well as the goofy idea that somehow I really needed it. So I turned back around and joined the rest of my friends as we walked pass.

Joe Foltz said...

I know this tension. I work at a homeless shelter. When I drive downtown and see homeless people, I normally know them. Here's my advice, for what it's worth: "Give generously to organizations that are set up to help the homeless recover." Homelessness, in all seriousness, is a mental disorder. The longer a person is homeless, the greater the possibility that they will become detached from reality.

tom joad said...

i'm glad that you are struggling with this paradox, and seeing it clearly. keep wrestling with those symbols.

and i am sure it makes one wonder whether Jesus would have been on the boat with the Christian leaders, or if He would have been with the homeless, with no place to lay his head, except the concrete.

Daniel Coutz said...

My guess is the latter.

Nate O. said...

I wonder how many of us all shared this feeling or this tug towards a simple conversation or whatever could come of a simple introduction to these men. And how many of us ignored that simply because we were caught up in ourselves and our counterparts.

That night, many may have felt a desire to emerge themselves in that situation. I can't even imagine what sort of thing would have happened if we, as a community of student leaders seeking Christ, would have pushed away the thoughts of missing a ride back home to realize what was in front of us.

Equally ashamed.

Brian Miller said...

I am ashamed to say that I did not even see them.

no one without Christ, but some call me Webb said...

You know Christ, that guy we supposedly follow, called His disciples to leave their lives and follow Him with reckless abandon. I believe He also said that the world, our parents, friends, other family, governments, innocent by-standers, the list goes on, would call us foolish, no, wait....FOOLISH!!! To HELL with what people think. I am following Christ. You can either join the ranks or become Laodacian. If you don't get that last comment, check your local Holy Bible in the book of Revelations. I LOVE YOU ALL.

Matthew 5:38-48, NASB

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone want to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only you brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."