A boy, age 11, wakes up and gets ready for school. His father is eagerly waiting for him on the sunken couch. The man shouts obscenities at his son, because the boy did not clean up a mess his dog had made during the night. Although this task is an impossibility, yes, since the boy was sleeping, the father’s anger goes unquenched. Yelling is not enough; he chases after the boy, grabbing onto his hoodie. His grasp slips, and the boy escapes out the door. The boy knows what’s waiting at home when he returns.
An old man wakes up, his joints sore as he places his feet on the cold floor. He prays, “God, please place in my path someone who I can encourage today,” as he buttons his shirt to go out and have his regular coffee with his buddies. An accident in the road makes the man anxious as he knows he is going to be late; he hates to be late. He arrives at the regular place late, as he expected, and a boy is outside asking for someone to buy his breakfast.
The old man walks toward the front door and looks the boy up and down. He can tell from the looks of this boy that he does not come from the good part of town, so he gives the boy what he can, some advice: “Son, you need to get to school. It will do you a world of good to have an education.” The boy looks at the old man and then sees a person behind him. He asks the second person for breakfast, ignoring the old man’s loving advice. The old man thinks to himself, “Some people just don’t want help; too bad.”
The old man then has a fantastic conversation with his buddies about the past week’s church service. He leaves the restaurant feeling very good about himself. Then he notices the boy is gone. He thinks to himself, “Maybe he did go to school.” He smiles and walks back to his car, proudly thinking he’s really made a difference; and it’s only 10 a.m. He thanks God and goes back home to rest.
The old man assumed the boy’s needs and his situation. He thought the boy was skipping school or maybe not attending at all. In reality, he just needed some breakfast before school because he couldn’t go back home.
This story is not just for you but for me as well. I find it very convicting. I can often be judgmental. Many times, it is not harsh, negative judgements but just assumptions on what people need and where they are in life. The thing that’s hard about this story is that the man’s heart was in the right place; he intended to help. What can we do? How do we fix this and avoid missing the opportunities that are provided for us every day?
Luke 7:34 (NIV) states exactly what Jesus did and the example we should follow: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” [bold added for emphasis]. Did you see that word “friend?”
ACT: This week, get to know someone personally who you think is in need. If we are to live on mission in our communities, it requires more than giving some money or going to some events in the community. It involves more than just buying someone breakfast and feeling good about it. It requires building relationships and community with those who are much like ourselves—hungry to be known and to have their basic needs met. I want to be called “friend” by anyone who will have me, don’t you? Who will you share life with this week?