So, if i asked you what a poor person was capable of, how would you answer?
Did your mind immediately go to a negative? As in what crime is a poor person capable of?
Or did you start to think of all the possibilities that a poor person might have available to them to change their life? Did you think of how lazy a poor person must be?
Or how about this – did you think about all the things that a poor person couldn’t possibly do because they are poor?
What are you basing your answer on? Do you know anyone who is poor – or (gasp!) homeless? By that I mean, do you know someone who is really poor or homeless by name and could easily have a conversation with them, or do on a regular basis? As in you are essentially involved in their life and they are involved in yours?
Often we middle class folks don’t like to get involved with the poor or homeless – it messes up our lives and is messy. Making eye contact or getting to know a person’s name might just mess up our schedules, or force us to see the humanity in someone else. Or it might cost us something.
But here’s something another pastor told me yesterday that struck me – God has a way of messing our plans up and stirring the pot. When we encounter the poor and homeless, it stirs the pot of comfort, of what is expected, and of what is considered normal. Those that are different make the rest of us uncomfortable. But it is in that uncomfortableness that we have an opportunity to see why we are uncomfortable and we can grow from that. And we can learn what it means to really help someone who is poor and homeless.
What does it mean to help someone like this – it means not making decisions for them, but to walk along side someone. That’s no different from if someone is helping you – do you like to be told what to do?
What are the poor capable of? Well, for one, they are capable of putting a mirror up to us so we can see the fear that we have – fear of being in their place and situation. Secondly, they are capable of humanizing us again by giving us an opportunity to see the humanity in someone different from ourselves.