I was downtown yesterday and saw a big, mean, gruff-looking biker dude walking a small, manicured poodle by a leash and it just struck me as somehow out-of-whack.
But I got to thinking about it and realized it was just my own preconceived prejudices that were probably to blame.
Why couldn't he walk that poodle. Isn't it OK to have a dog. Maybe his wife or sweetheart asked him to. Or maybe he had promised a now-deceased friend that he would look after it after they were gone.
It's funny how we can stereotype things, people and ideas.
Take a look at that homeless guy named Jesus who was around about 2,000 years ago and had some books written about him.
Now-days folks picture him as nice and neat with white robes and flowing locks of well-combed hair.
But working among the homeless population I kind of doubt that was the case when he was among us as a man.
I can't even keep the clothes I wear daily clean so I'm not sure how Jesus and his apostles could have kept very clean walking miles between villages and camping out among the stars. I'm sure they had access to water along the way and when they stopped, but I wouldn't want to be wearing white.
And being a carpenters son, I bet his hands were rough and calloused with a few cuts here and there and his arms were muscular and his back strong from lifting the heavy beams and working with his tools.
Was Jesus truly homeless?
There will always be debate on that subject, but from his words it seems that it may have been the case.
We read in Luke 9:58 that "Jesus had "nowhere to lay his head" and in Matthew 8:20 he made a point about how hard it was to follow him by saying "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
Even if he wasn't homeless, he surely identified with those who were poor and passing through. Even at his birth he was born in a manger, perhaps in a shed, perhaps outside, far from home.
If pushed, we might invite a homeless Jesus into our heart. But would we have trouble inviting him into our home?
We cannot imagine the Messiah lying under a blanket on a park bench. We assume that God wants his followers to be healthy and wealthy. Some of us even blame the poor around us for not having enough faith.
But he surely had a heart for helping the liars and the thieves, the prostitutes and the tax collectors. The poor and the angry so I think we need to take a close look at his example.
Working down here at the Mission can be a trying experience.
But God has arranged it so that our workers go away richer than when they came in the door. Not richer in money, but richer in spirit, faith and understanding. In God's economy, we have to give it away to gain it.
Yes, sometimes these stereotypes can lead us astray.
I am very slowly learning more about how to show Christ's love to my fellow man, but I believe I have a long way to go still.
... But a biker and a poodle,; well, that's just kind of hard to accept still :)
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ ‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
~ Matthew 25:34-45
You can read more stories like this in my book Stories And Recipes From The Soup Kitchen, available on Amazon
- And you can visit the Silver City Gospel Mission at https://silvercitygospelmission.org/