We are taught in the Bible to treat each other like we want to be treated. We are taught that if we are Christian, we have an open door, open arm attitude toward everyone. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Many homeless have addiction problems. Some have hygiene issues because there isn’t anywhere to get clean every day, even three times a week. Store owners don’t want “bums” in their stores using the bathrooms. Churches aren’t open every day as a rule. On any given Sunday, however, one would think that our attitude toward those who are needy, possibly homeless would be more giving and caring. What would we do if Jesus walked among us, us not knowing it of course, and he showed up as a homeless person to a church?
Two churches, two different stories. The church up the road has a congregation that meets around 1000 for Sunday school and 1100 for services. Parking is a challenge. They serve the homeless or whoever needs serving Monday through Friday, but it isn’t the church’s congregation that does the serving, it’s community volunteers with a coalition to help the homeless. They come from all over. Kind. On Sunday, though, these people are at their own churches. A car pulls up and parks to pick up a homeless guy nearby who wants to go to church. He lives right next door to this church. Does he want to go there? No. When the car parked, a church member asked “are you coming to service.” No good morning, how are you,no smile, no open arms. Two people got out of the car to go get the homeless guy, both dressed in what could be called Sunday clothes. The church member was confrontational, the two people were polite. The answer to her question was no, they were picking someone up. She went into an explanation of how they couldn’t park there, that the spots were needed for service at 1100, and so on. It was about 8:15 am. If either one of those people were Jesus, he would have been very disappointed. Forgiving of course, but disappointed in the reception, no kindness, the judgement of a situation without asking or having Christian concern.
The church down the road is open every day at some point in time. They have no formal homeless program. The homeless flock to this church. They tell people come to this church. They give out bread from a market on Sunday morning, cook a breakfast for the congregation and the homeless whether they stay or not for the service or for Bible study. They give food away when they can. They hug the homeless people and show genuine concern when someone is sick. That’s where the homeless guy who lives by the other church wanted to go, the church down the road. Why? No judgement, they don’t care what someone looks like or has on, just that they are there. If they come for bread for the belly, good. Maybe they will stay and get bread for the soul, too. If Jesus walked into that church as a homeless person would he be happy? Probably. They try to be kind and helpful and caring. There were no unkind words or judgmental looks.
Churches are meant to be representatives of Christ. That means acting and being Christ-like. You can’t be a hypocrite with the homeless, or anyone for that matter. God knows what you are doing. Which church would you want to go to?