Last week Ed and I were in downtown Fort Collins where we had a nice lunch with some new friends that we met in church. After lunch on our way through town we drove past The Rescue Mission where several homeless people were gathered outside waiting for a meal. Right around the corner was Catholic Family Charities where more homeless people were waiting outside on the lawn and then we drove past a city park on the north end of town where homeless people gather to talk, sit on the benches or sleep on the lawn. All of the people we saw were very tired looking, unkept, unattractive and quite honestly I felt overwhelmed seeing all of them and realizing how much help they needed. In feeling overwhelmed I thought it sure would be much easier, and nicer!, to just stay in my comfortable world of having lunch with friends, driving in our nice truck and forgetting about all the hard work ahead of us with Soaring Wings Ministries. As we were driving through town, I turned and asked Ed, "Why does God care so much about poor people?" In reading the New Testament it is clear that Jesus gives us clear direction to help the poor. But why? Why in Matthew 19:21 did Jesus tell us to go sell our possessions and give to the poor? Why in Matthew 22:39 does Jesus tell us that the 2nd greatest commandment is to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and in Luke 14:13 why does Jesus tell us to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind to a banquet rather than our friends, relatives and rich neighbors? Ed did not have an answer to my question about "Why does God care so much about the poor?" so I was left to ponder my thoughts on my own.
The next day I was walking two of our dogs, our Beagle and our Sheltie. When we left New Hampshire we had 4 dogs with us but we are now down to 3 since we had to put our black lab to sleep. Our 3rd dog, Luke, the 100 lb. Great Pyrenees mix could not stay at the campground with us as we were only allowed to have two dogs at our campsite. We were able to find Luke a temporary home at a Rescue Home for Great Pyrenees dogs up in the mountains near Colorado Springs. He is well cared for there and has plenty of room to run around and we are so thankful that they are willing to keep him for us until we are able to have him back with us. As I was walking our two dogs, I was thinking about Luke and wondering how he was getting along. I was also still pondering my question about "Why does God care so much about the poor?". As I walked I thought to myself that it sure would be cheaper and a whole lot easier if we had just given Luke to a dog pound. It isn't cheap to pay the Great Pyrenees Rescue each month to take care of Luke and we have no idea how long he will be there. As I walked, I thought to myself that we never could have taken Luke to a dog pound because we love the dog and because as one of God's creatures he deserves to be taken care of and not just tossed aside because it is costly and inconvenient. WOW! In thinking about Luke, there was the answer to my question about "Why does God care so much about the poor?"!!!! DId you catch those words that entered my mind as I walked our dogs? LOVE, DESERVES TO BE TAKEN CARE OF, COSTLY, INCONVENIENT. Jesus cares so much about the poor because he loves them, because they are precious, because Jesus values life and because they are human beings that deserve a hand up no matter if it is costly and inconvenient. When Jesus looks at a homeless person he does not see them as being unkept, dirty, or unattractive. In fact, if you were to put a homeless person next to someone wealthy(like Donald Trump) or attractive (you can fill in the blank on this one!), Jesus would not have any preference at all! He would put his arms around both of them and hug them equally and love them equally. Jesus knew that the world would be drawn to attractive, good looking, wealthy and clean people with good teeth and nice hair. He knew that people on earth would find it difficult to be around and care about the poor people who aren't attractive, who don't have nice clothes, who don't have nice clear hair and teeth and so He left us with clear commands in the Bible about caring for the poor because HE LOVES THEM! These directions that Jesus has given us are not easy ones. To care about homeless human beings as Jesus does is costly and inconvenient but these homeless people are very precious to Jesus and we have a responsibility as Christians to help our fellow man no matter their status in life. I know, as we move forward with Soaring Wings Ministries, that there will be many times that I will feel overwhelmed. I know that there will be times where I want to forget about helping the homeless and go on with my "nice" life. But as a Christian, I made a decision to be God's servant and as God's servant I have no choice but to obey God's commands to love the poor. I pray that as we move forward with Soaring Wings Ministries that God will give me a genuine love for the homeless people that we will be serving. I want to genuinely love them like Jesus. I want to look at homeless people through the eyes of Jesus and see them as Jesus does....precious people. I am not there yet but my prayer is that someday I will be able to say without hesitation that the cost of helping homeless people is worth everything I have to give and that instead of using the work "inconvenient", I will use the word "privilege".
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries