The Poor, The Outcast, The Economy -RANT-

???Yep, a rant. But if you’ll read through I think you’ll find it is a rant with
actual substance. And by the way, I edited this about 4 times before
posting 🙂

So I???m thinking about this new cd project we???re about to release. It???s
blues, mostly acoustic, much though not all done in the traditional
delta style of the early part of the last century. Aged. Like me. Like
cheese I hope 🙂 Parts of it are electrified.

I make no apologies for the fact that ???Cardboard Box??? is the title for
a number of reasons, one being that people make sharp and often
ignorant, prejudiced and even racist judgments about the poor,
homeless and addicted, perhaps considering them about like a piece
of cardboard. Then again, some have only that to sleep on at night. Lots
of good value in cardboard…

It???s quite clear that many people who get into these situations have
made horrible, sinful (according to the Bible) choices and in some
cases are indeed lazy and would rather not take ???responsible??? actions
for lifestyle change. Personal responsibility is a reality and trust me, it???s
the one I call us all to -very- often.

It is equally clear that many- and I mean many people have ended up in
deep poverty, jobless, homeless and even addicted due to a number of
family, friend, illness and economic issues, often largely not by ??their own
choice.

No doubt a person smokes dope, drinks to excess and sleeps around by
choice- but how they began or continued or even have lived for some
years on such a road is not as simple nor as damnable as many
Christians think. Quite a few people I???ve known and read over the
years reduce 98 percent of these folks to ???they chose sin and they???re
now reaping what they???ve sown??? with zero other consideration.

I don???t expect those with little experience in daily ministry to the
poor to agree with my take on this, but is it not clear that Jesus commands
us to love ??our neighbor without a lot of extra detail? Unfortunately a great
many of us do not love our neighbor. Fear, prejudice, ??scapegoating and raw
ignorance add up to our ???go away???, ???go someplace else??? when they come to
mind.

This is quite unlike Jesus??? view of the good Samaritan???s treatment of the
beaten-up guy in the ditch. Remember that in that ??story it was indeed the
priest and the Levite (two of the groups ??considered most holy in Israel) who
walked right by the injured man.

Have you ever wondered how that guy ended up in the ditch in the first place?

Was he an alcoholic? In our day, he may have been a drug addict, a crack user.
He ??might have lost his job and ended up homeless. He could have been
sexually abused as a young boy, got caught up in male prostitution,
eventually gave into (or was pushed into) drug abuse and eventually
thrown out of a car into the ditch.

I???ll be honest, I myself might on this or that occasion, pass right by
this sort of
person.

Thank God- so many people such as those who work at our Cornerstone
Community Outreach here in Chicago???s inner city- like many others in the
various shelter and job-training, etc. areas of social work- deal with
such people
every day. The best of them do not see their clients as bits of
cardboard, blocks
of wood, less-than-human, or as garbage.

They ??get to know their names, their stories, often hearing about
horrific childhood
experiences, military service that left them broken, sick, divorced and perhaps
addicted to this or that drug or alcohol.

There are plenty of reasons why people end up on society???s ???ash heap??? but not
plenty of people who care about them, learn their names, ??treat them
like someone???s
son, daughter, sister, brother, mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. Street people, the
poor, the homeless, the jobless ARE ALL THOSE. Fact.

Racism, class-ism, discomfort with this or that subculture, ethnic
differences, urban
vs. rural ideas of what America is or ought to be, all of these are
involved in the way
we treat, mistreat or ignore the poor, the street people, those we
dislike and just don???t
want to be around.

Look, if you knew me, really knew me, you???d know I???m not a
???bleeding-heart liberal???.
What I do know is that there are too many Christian people who do not DO much of
anything about loving their neighbor -especially neighbors like these.
And I think a great
many if not 98 percent of the excuses as to why we do so little for
them are plain nonsense.

By the way, how often throughout the Bible does God accent the
wonderful rich as opposed
to the horrible poor? How often does He blast and say quite negative
things about the rich?
Please do a thorough study and ask yourself where God stands on such
matters. Sin is sin
for ALL classes in society.

Let???s go a bit further:

IF the church- meaning ???assembly of Christ-following people???, not this
or that organization…
actually did our job as they obviously did in Acts chapters two and
four, IF we extended real
mercy to those around us in need… no government (left or right), no
taxation, no political
issues that are often argued and even screamed about regarding the
poor, homeless and
???mis-fits??? in our society would even enter the discussion.

The blessing and sometimes the shock is that there ARE Christians
throughout the world who
???get it???… and ???give???. They love in deed. They love ???the least of these???.

The sad reality is that far too many believers do little or nothing
besides criticize and blame this
or that government… when (I???ll repeat myself for clarity) IF the
church did our job the government
wouldn???t have to do it for us.

Some will argue from all sorts of angles that indeed no government
should legislate caring for the
poor. If you or yours ever get sick, lose your job or end up mentally
ill from a car crash, etc., you may
think differently though you attend an otherwise wonderful local
church. I???m being blunt and I think
it???s past time to be so on this issue.

We have an increasing population of hurting people in our world and
likely, on your block, certainly
in your town or nearest town- regardless of where you live. While many
of us ??simply don???t want to
be ???bothered??? by these people, God literally commands us to love one them.

How, when and if you love your neighbor in service is truly, in the
end, your choice. But it is also a
biblical, Old and New Testament -command-.

Blaming a person for their mess is easy, simple, often correct and
quite cheap. In the end it is the
least we can do and while we are busy calling sinners out for their
sin (don???t miss the fact that I
do so a lot and expect I???m doing so in this article) the real question
is what we???re doing to help
them get up out of their particular ???ditch???.

Often, the answer is not much!

If ???none is righteous, not even one???, if ???all we like sheep have gone
astray???, if ???let the one without sin
cast the first stone??? rings a bell, then perhaps you are ready to hear
these words of Jesus also: ???the
poor you shall have with you ALWAYS, and you can DO GOOD TO THEM
-WHENEVER- YOU WANT TO???
(caps. my emphasis). Indeed. In deed.

Too much talk. Too many excuses. Too much blame-shifting. Far too much
changing the discussion from
???what should I be doing about this???? to ???it???s THEIR FAULT???… ???what
should THEY be doing about their
situation???.

Do I think people are often reaping what they???ve sown, that they???ve
made lousy choices and therefore
ended up in the mess they???ve made for themselves? I indeed do.

I also think God has called us to sow mercy and justice, not excuses
or blame. I truly think we sometimes
change the conversation to politics and argue around the real issue:
loving my neighbor costs -me-, often
hurts, and sometimes sees little ???return for investment???. Is this not
equally true about God loving us? It
cost and costs Him, often brings Him great pain and at times He sees
little return for all He???s done and
doing for us.

???As you???ve -done it- to the LEAST of these my brethren, you???ve done it to Me.???

Seek the Lord on this. Study His Word on this. Search on the web for
local ministries and other organizations
where the poor, homeless and outcasts of whatever sort are being
served. Pray and then volunteer. Give
financially. Open your heart. Get beyond excuses to positive action.
Get to knowing some of these people in
relationship.

Do something more than gripe about taxes and the ???bums??? who make your
life difficult. If you???re having a
rough time economically, just getting by in ???survival mode??? with your
own job and dealing with your own bills,
ask yourself how much fun it would be to be as poor, out-of-work and
addicted as so many of these street
people.

God calls us to give. He calls us to serve. He commands us to love our
neighbor, not run our neighbor out of
the neighborhood.

End of rant. God help us… truly help us help others! -Glenn

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