August 29, 2012

The Homeless and James Chapter Two



We recently visited Seattle and did a lot of walking throughout the city. One thing I noticed was how many homeless people there were. They were everywhere, on every corner of the city. They were also very aggressive in asking for money. It was overwhelming. So overwhelming that I didn't know how to react. One drugged-up woman came right up to me and started asking frantically for money. My husband gave her some and I was able to give her a hug as well. But I still felt so awful. Here I was on a vacation, with money in my pocket and here were hundreds of people living on the streets.

This is something I struggle with. 

A few days ago my oldest daughter, who has been counseling at a camp all summer, called me. I told her about our trip and my experience of being overwhelmed by the problems of homelessness, drug addicts, the mentally ill and alcoholics on the streets.

She reminded me of a time about a year ago when she and some friends went downtown and befriended a homeless man. They bought him a knapsack and wrote down some verses for him to keep. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when she went downtown again with some different friends and she heard her name being called. It was him and a year later, he still had the knapsack and the verses. She talked a little with him then went along with her friends.

She had made a difference, even ever so small. She had made this homeless man feel like he wasn't invisible. She had given him something material he needed and she had shared Words of Life with him.

This really made me think. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with the social problems in our world that we completely ignore them and do nothing. This isn't what Jesus wants us to do. We can't save people, only Jesus can, but we can love them with as little as buying them a knapsack or taking the time to write down a few verses from God's Word. I can't tell you how proud I am of my daughter. I love seeing her grow in Christ.

God doesn't ask us to save the world or stand as it's judge. He asks us to love it by doing. When I was searching for a verse to go with my post today I came across James chapter two. I was only going to post the nice parts, the parts that encourage and make me feel good, but God really spoke to me through this chapter as a whole. Even though I'm saved by grace, I'm still a sinner and He wants to renew me through verses like this, verses that tell it like it is.

How many times have I been partial to people who make me feel comfortable? How many homeless people, drug addicts and alcoholics are sitting on our church benches? Do we even invite them? How many times has the Lord asked me to do something, but I never actually went through with doing it?

Lord, penetrate your words into our hearts. Help us live your words, not just read them.

                                                        James Chapter 2

"My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 

For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 

and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool,"

have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 

But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 

Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? 

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself,"  you do well.

but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

For He who said, "Do not commit adultery,"  also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 

So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.  

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 

and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 

But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! 

But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 

Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. 

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 

Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."                                                    

6 comments:

  1. Thus we should not only speak, but doers of the word. My prayer is that God can use me whetever i am in every ways that i can and with the resources that He provides. Bless you sister for your kind heart.
    My daughter is in mexico right kow to study and she told me not she bought many bracelets from a woman vendor. Felt pity in her and gave her more money than the bracelets cost. And with that I thank God for he had given my daughter too a chace to do something to others:)

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    1. I was just thinking about that today, how it doesn't matter how much money we have or make, its how we use it. It's all a gift from God and He meant for us to share. Love hearing about your daughter! It's so good to see young people seeking and serving the Lord. :)

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  2. Visiting from Grace Cafe. I love the Book of James, and he certainly puts us in our place about what we should be doing as God's children. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about the homeless in Seattle, your daughter's experience, and this incredible letter written by James. FYI, I live in Portland where we have similar issues with the homeless as Seattle. It is unnerving at times and distracting as we struggle to find our place in helping and reaching out.

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    1. I think this is probably common in all large North American cities. Vancouver, BC is the closest city to us and its a major problem there as well.
      I do think every little thing we do counts. Nothing is to small. God sees it all. :)

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  3. My husband and I recently visited Seattle and we also were amazed at the number of homeless people. Many of them slept on the streets near downtown. It was eye opening for us. (We live near Dallas and yes there are homeless people there, but I think we saw more of it in Seattle.)

    Yours is the second post I have read tonight about reaching out to others in love. I think too many times Christians try to "save" people (as you said only Jesus can save). Instead if we reach out in love then we truly are being the hands of feet of Christ. That can open the door for so much more, including sharing the gospel.

    This past spring I did Beth Moore's study on James and the theme was "Live It." Not just being hearers of the Word, but doers.

    Blessings,
    Joan

    (By the way, we were also in Victoria BC for a short time. Beautiful city!)

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    1. Hi Joan, thanks for stopping by.

      Growing up in church I really felt pressure to 'save' people, to be a good enough example to 'save' them. Well I failed miserably. I'm just a sinner saved by grace and I now know He is the only one who can save anyone. Praise God!

      The Beth Moore study sounds good. I love her studies. And I love Victoria! I agree its such a beautiful city. :)

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Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments. I try to respond to all of them by the end of the week. : )

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