Saturday, April 7, 2012

That Pesky Jesus

Whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God or just a character in a book, you have to admit that some of the things he says are pretty annoying. Jesus wants us to give away our goods, feed the poor, help the sick, and turn the other cheek when someone wrongs us. 

Boy, Jesus has his nerve, doesn't he? Where does he get off telling me to do those things? Doesn't he know that I worked hard for my things, so I deserve them? Doesn't he know that I'm busy? Doesn't he know that the poor and the sick got that way because they made bad choices or sinned? Geesh, why should the poor and sick get a free ride while I work for what I get? And turning the other cheek? Why, that's enabling a bully to keep bullying, isn't it? Better I teach him a lesson, so he doesn't hurt me again.

Good points, maybe, or maybe just self-serving points, but the question is, "How well has that self-satisfied, think-of-myself-first worldview worked out?" Not too well, I'd say. The ranks of the homeless, the poor, the sick, and the hungry grow day by day, and we refuse to see them. We use labels, abstractions, or statistics to hide hurting individuals. We pat ourselves on the back when we make a donation to a food bank, and then we go out for a steak dinner in a restaurant and spend enough to feed several families. I'm not saying give up all restaurant meals, but I am saying you should be aware of what that amount of money can do, and maybe cut back on restaurant dining or take a homeless person to dinner.

My son Grant and I did just that-- took a homeless man called "Pops" out for a meal at the Red Lobster. We had befriended him and given him money and things for a couple of years, so one day we asked him to join us for a meal. We picked him up on his street corner. He was visibly nervous. We told him he could order whatever he wanted. He was in shock. No one had told him that in years and years, he said. He chose his meal and dessert. He was especially pleased with the dessert because the money he made on the corner didn't allow for too many treats. He told us stories; we had no idea how many were true because many were contradictory, but they were entertaining. We had a delightful time, and we hugged one another when we dropped him back at his corner. We would have taken him out to eat again, but he disappeared from his corner, and we had no way to find him, knowing him only as "Pops."

The point of sharing that story is that by taking Pops out for a meal and spending time with him, he became an individual, a possible friend, not a label or abstraction. So, if each of us adopted a homeless, poor, hungry, or sick person, perhaps in a short time there would be many fewer people in need. Even though we might be a little poorer monetarily by spending on others, we will be richer in spirit. When the day comes that we face death, we won't care about our money and things; we will wish we had loved more and given more. So, perhaps we should get started now, thereby having fewer regrets later.

That pesky Jesus with his annoying words has given us the keys to a beautiful kingdom--a kingdom that we can make happen only with our loving, open-handed actions. All we have to do is pick up the keys and get going. The homeless, the poor, the sick, and the hungry are waiting for us.

Happy Easter. Blessings to you, your family, and your friends.

Take care,

Kate

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27 comments:

  1. You should join me sometime when I do things with my honor society Kathleen. I used to volunteer a lot at soup kitchens and some friends and I used to make food and serve it out of our trunk in LA. Now, my honor society is shifting a bit and we visit a lot of nursing homes instead simply because older members or parents are there. It's always fun though, and we always make new friends :)

    -Michelle

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  2. Shared this on facebook. Such a wonderful and timely message. Thanks for the reminders.

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  3. Beautifully said and right on point. Thank you for remining us what resurection is really about. May God bless and keep you.

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  4. And the most overlooked point is that Jesus commanded us to give willingly from our own wealth. So little of that being done by so many people who invoke Jesus' name in discussion of social policy today.

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  5. What a wonderful story. We could all be more kind and help the needy...Your story should be an inspiration to all..

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  6. Well said. I agree whole heartedly.
    -Lyn

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  7. I'm not a Christian but this reminds me of the Christianity I grew up around in the Seventies. Beautiful, selfless and loving, a code of behaviour that all of us can practise regardless of our faith (or lack of it!) .Thank you so much for sharing with us.

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  8. Agreed, beautiful thoughts. My comment is this: Give a man a fiah, he eats for one meal. Teach a man to fish, he eats for life. I think it is more important to find ways to help these people so they can then help themselves then it is to treat them to a single wonderful meal that might make them feel worse about how crappy their normal life ia compared to this one meal. I'm not saying they wouldn't enjoy a treat once in awhile like anybody else. I commend your efforts. I'm just saying we can do more for them by helping them become self reliant, or by providing some sort of permanent assisted living. Please understand, I am not criticizing. Just my two cents of ways to help that might have more far reaching effect. ~Karen

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  9. About that teach a man to fish idea . . .
    Help him fund a boat, and likely he'll get a crew and start a commercial fishing business.
    That way, he'll support himself, be a job creator, and he'll teach others to fish as well.
    But in order to do that, ya' gotta' quit looking at him as a man that just wants one of your fish, for free.
    Therein lies the problem, that "pesky Jesus" hasn't yet taught you that all men are created equal, and deserve equal opportunity.
    Rick Shreiner
    Stockholm, Sweden

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  10. Perhaps you and your son entertained an angel and since you did so he went on to his next assignment. You never know when you are going to be entertaining an angel so treat everyone as if you are.

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  11. Please look at Nick Hornby's novel, "How To Be Good." It will be worth your while.

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