Outsider

Yesterday I glanced out of my kitchen window and saw a bicycle ride by.  It was Michael.  He always has a boyish appearance, with a bright baseball cap and torn jeans.  Getting to know him, I’ve learned that he isn’t a young guy, in fact, he has an adult son.

Michael is one of the many homeless that have become a fixture of our downtown church location since beginning our ministry at Citychurch.  He even worked in our church’s kitchen for a period of time, but it was short-lived since he was let go because of thievery.

I have two thoughts as I see Michael ride past my house.

One, I feel thankful that I live on a street where people we encounter, try to love, in our ministry downtown would ride past my home.

Two, I wonder about Michael’s son.  The last time I talked to Michael, in the middle of this summer while I was in the neighborhood delivering lunches to kids, Michael’s son was enrolling for college.  I wonder how his son is doing in college.  I wonder how he feels having a bike-riding, panhandling, homeless dad.  I wonder if it makes him driven to become something, ashamed, or both.  I wonder how I would feel if my dad was homeless.

This week has been hard for me.  My husband has been out of town, and he makes home feel like home.  He makes church feel like our church.  I’ve felt very unconnected to the people around me.  I’ve felt like my heart is homeless.

I am trying to be thankful for this feeling.  I am trying to be thankful for the reminder that this world isn’t my home.

I’ve felt like an outsider this week, and that is what He calls us to be.  Jesus was our example.  Jesus was just as homeless as Michael.  Jesus lived as an outsider; he died as an outsider.  We love, do good, and share with the outsiders because He was an outsider and so are we.

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
— Hebrews 13:12-16 ESV

I would like to say that it is all very beautiful to feel like an outsider, and I’ve loved everyone so well because of this reminder.  I haven’t handled this week well at all.  I’ve pushed others away.  I’ve felt sorry for myself.  I’ve worried; I’ve wept.

Feeling like an outsider isn’t easy.

He promises to equip us.  I’m counting on that today.  I need it badly.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
— Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV

Sometimes we need Jesus to equip us to just make it through a hard week or two, and sometimes we need Jesus to equip us to actually share with actual homeless men, women, and children.  I don’t want to overstate me and my homeless-feeling heart.  It is nothing compared to the trauma, hurt, and needs of people who don’t have a home at all.  Sitting in my lovely home, longing for the fulfillment that Heaven will some day bring would sound like such a luxury to many in my city and many more in the poverty of third world countries.

Let us strive to love the outsider, whether that outsider is a fellow human in need or that outsider is just us.

Let brotherly love continue.
— Hebrews 13:1 ESV

 

 

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