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The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40 (CEV)

It was the week before Easter when our small community choir visited a homeless shelter in a nearby city. Our small town, rural environment didn’t prepare us for what we experienced. Some of us had seen them in passing, the younger ones hadn’t. They were ‘bums, or hobos’ when I was growing up. Now the more ‘politically correct’ title was ‘the homeless’.

Our stereotypes were greatly wounded by the experience. After our concert we sat with men and women who missed their families dearly. Mom’s who admitted that their choices sent their children away. Dad’s who longed to know how their little boy was, but because of the mistakes he’s made, wasn’t allowed to. The tears of remorse flowed. The stories came out.

The experience taught me to look a little differently at the man on the street corner holding up a ‘Will Work For Food’ sign. These were men named ‘John’ and women named ‘Sandy’. Moms and Dads, sons and daughters, who were faced with the same decisions you and I were faced with. They took an easier way, a way that looked better at the time but ended up being a path with stiff and harsh consequences.

There was one other thing we noticed about many of those who stayed for the meal afterwards. They had a deep love for Jesus. How can someone who uses drugs, sleeps under bridges and occasionally steals claim to love Jesus? Better yet, how can I claim to love Jesus and not have compassion (at the least) for those less fortunate, the social outcasts, he’s put in my way to love and when possible give a helping hand.

What a privilege the Father has given us to be able to show the love of Jesus to those less fortunate than ourselves! There was no money handed out that night, but all of us left richer than when we came. Our new friends were reminded of Jesus love for them and the forgiveness only he can offer. We were reminded that not only did Jesus die for all of us. He allows us to minister to one another.

It’s a hard, but true fact that our Father expects us to reach out to those who we least want to reach out to. The dirty, the failures, the ones that we’d rather turn away from. “But,” you may say, “They will just use us. They’ll just take advantage of us. They can’t be trusted.”

The Father turns to us and says, “Yes, they may. I took a chance on you. Will you take a chance on them?”

PRAYER: Father, I’d far rather turn my attention and focus towards the beautiful and lovely. I’d far rather show your love to those who will build me up for my efforts. But I realize your desire is for those who are unlovely by the world’s standards to be shown your love. Empower me to show your love in a tangible way to the unlovely people around me. Amen.

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February 2012
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