When I give charitably, I never think I am doing enough. Do you ever think that way? Do you ever think to yourself: “I know I could give more, but I would have to make personal sacrifices that I am not comfortable with.”? Maybe it’s just me?
Realistically, I don’t think it’s just me. I imagine that is why so many people took to their Twitter and Facebook this past week to vent their frustrations. What was the frustrating outrage of the moment? Amazon CEO and world’s 2nd richest billionaire Jeff Bezos had the audacity to donate $100 million to various charities geared at helping the homeless. What a jerk! Am I right?
Here’s a question: Why don’t we invite a homeless person in to live with us when we pass them by and hear them beg for help? “Give to everyone who begs of you,” Jesus proclaims in the Gospel of Luke. “From anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.” I am inclined to point out that we often dismiss much of the Beatitudes of Luke and Matthew.
It’s amazing that those of us that follow Christian prescriptions, those of us who claim that we have a Christ-centered lens aren’t all running around inviting the homeless into our homes to end the problem once and for all. Jeff Bezos wouldn’t even need to be donating a dime if we were actually living out the Christian life that we claim to value and embrace.
I don’t really care, if in retrospect, the amount Bezos donated doesn’t amount to even a full percent of his accumulated wealth—it sure is a hell of a lot more money than I fathom I will ever be able to give in my entire lifetime. So, who am I to judge?
Well, we Christians, especially Progressive Christians, are never satisfied with what someone else did for efforts to combating social issues, are we? So, we have good cause to judge, don’t we?
We shake our social media status updates in the cyber air, and we proclaim that such deeds are just not good enough. But I ask: Which of you donated 100 million dollars this year or any other years combined? And for those of you who have not donated that much; why are you so selfish?
On days that I have zero cash on me, when I am also passing by someone begging for money, I turn away. Do you ever do that? It’s a dual humiliation for me. I am humiliated that I have nothing on me to hand out to someone in need. I am humiliated that I cannot even look them in the eye or acknowledge their presence because I think I have nothing to offer.
I am also humiliated on their behalf, on God’s behalf. This is not how people should live. I cannot imagine what strength and courage it takes to ask random passer-byers for money to get through another night. If I cannot help, I turn away. I pretend I do not see them. Later, I will beat myself up about it. I will remind myself that I had a trunk full of groceries. Even if I didn’t have cash, I could have offered him food or a blanket or something. I aim to be more intentional about carrying cash for instances like that, but then I forget all over again, and the cycle repeats.
Reading through Luke’s Gospel, however, triggered a thought that I have recalled before. Why are we not inviting homeless people into our homes to end homelessness one person at a time? Don’t worry, I already know why—no reason for you to start listing off all the excuses you have to invite some stranger into your home. Even though we have been screaming for America to open her door and let in all the strangers from foreign lands. I mean, it’s different when it’s literally our homes, right? It’s not the same.
Think about this; at a time in our society when we are at the height of disconnection as we know it, instead of creating a connection and practicing our Christianity, we would much rather ridicule others who are doing something to contribute to the reduction of homelessness. Couple that with the billionaires that step in to ensure cities have safe drinking water, right here in the United States. Why are we not praising them and imitating them? Who are you to decide what each person should give, anyway?
Meanwhile, the streets in many major cities are being overrun by literal feces because the homelessness rate is on the rise. And instead of making use of the additional space in our homes, because on average, we all have more space than we need; we complain about the size of the house someone else has. And without an ounce of consideration that there are people literally living in tents or boxes.
It seems to me we aren’t too keen on the idea of “giving to everyone who begs of” us. The irony is that we are often the voice of the silent beggars and yet we scowl at billionaires who step in an contribute to a cause the government has continuously failed to address or decrease.
I submit, that if you are truly concerned about the homeless, you would start inviting these individuals into your homes and do what you could to practice the Christianese that you are so enamored with identifying as your core belief system. Just an idea. An idea I am going to consider deeply.