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Archive for October 19th, 2006

Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him also. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. (Jesus, in Luke 6)

What, exactly, is the Christian response to that-which-makes-us-uncomfortable? What if the-uncomfortable is also the-unsafe… does that change the appropriate and Christlike response, or is it irrelevant? Is this concern for ourselves, our safety a proper concern, or merely something we want and therefore project onto Scripture? What do we do with the verses about turning the other cheek and giving our shirt also and going the second mile? This has been bothering me a lot lately.

Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?   (Isaiah 58) 

It keeps coming up: in blogs (http://fireinthebones.wordpress.com/2006/10/05/aint-it-beautiful-this-nightly-scream/), in Bible studies, in conversations… I even hear echos of it in conversations I overhear…. and I have to ask, is it God trying to draw my attention to this issue? I’m beginning to suspect so.

Come, you who are blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, For I was hungry and you  gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick and you visted me; I was in prison and you came to me. (Jesus, in Matthew 25)

Here’s the thing: When I encounter the uncomfortable, I turn away. “I’ll find a man to get some food to that guy there on the corner,” I think, “wouldn’t be safe for me to do something like that.” I’ll go down to the soup kitchen, but not alone. Wow, that guy who sleeps in his car really needs some help… but I don’t feel like it’s safe (and, don’t laugh, I really do have good instincts about these sort of things)… surely, someone else can help him. And more and more, I’ve begun to be uncomfortable with that. I’m sure that’s not what Jesus would have done… and I wonder if cultural and gender issues make a difference. Are there Scriptural precedents for keeping ourselves safe, for placing physical safety/comfort over meeting the needs of someone who’s hurting? Is there a line to be drawn between reasonably protecting the body which is the temple of God and loving unconditionally even those people and in those times and places where it’s uncomfortable? Does that line exist, and if so where should it be drawn? I don’t have answers to these questions… or at least, not yet.

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