Monday, 28 April 2014

Jesus and the homeless

Gisborne Herald – Christian Comment –26th April 2014.

It has become apparent that there are growing numbers of homeless people on the streets of Gisborne. 

At this time of the year I don’t encounter them in our CBD during my early walk, but I see them asleep under the stars. One morning in March there were two snuggled down on the concrete entranceway to our church Community Centre. Two hours later I entered the church from a rear door and came across two others sound asleep huddled together on the ground using collapsed supermarket cartons as a mattress. When woken they were apologetic and gathered their meagre belongings and moved on. What better place than the borders of a church to sleep and have a sense of safety within the confines of God’s sanctuary. When the congregation began to arrive they were told of our overnight guests. There was considerable comment, some positive and some negative. I thought, ‘How would Jesus have responded ?’   

The word "poor" occurs 205 times in 197 verses in the KJV Bible. God's view on the poor is very clear about how we should treat them.   Let us look at what God's opinion of the poor is.  Jesus is an excellent example of what a poor person was in his day. In fact, it is safe to say that Jesus was a homeless person at least some of the time (see Luke 9:58). The people that Jesus associated with were homeless and poor as well. 

There are calls from “responsible people” to "clean up the streets" by having the police "sweep" the street people away and target them by issuing “Trespass Notices.” Is this the attitude that God wants us to have towards the disadvantaged ?   We are not going to alleviate poverty in our cities or raise anyone out of poverty either, by giving to beggars or making donations to organizations designed to help them. To accomplish this objective we need to address the universal causes of poverty. Until that happens maybe we should become more compassionate to everyone, including the homeless. You never know, one day a relative or friend of ours may be one of them…

Garth Hibbert
Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church

Garth is a Gisborne born retired business administrator who for the past 15 years has written short stories, anecdotes, columns and reflections about life and current affairs. He is a believer in the Christian faith and a servant of his Lord.

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