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It was cool outside for an autumn day. Leaves falling into piles soon swept away by the elderly or crumpled upon by playing children. His presence almost faded into the background of grey skies and dull weather. But I saw him. His orange shirt peaking through the mounds of clothing he carried with him like baggage. Most of us know that feeling internally.
From the outside, I thought I knew him. Like every other passerby, his stature was the typical homeless man. Shaggy beard and hollow eyes looking down in no other direction. Shuffling from side to side to keep warm, his husky lay at his feet. The dog looked as if he’d been eating well. The man not so much.
It’s hard to say if a person we know nothing about really needs our help or not. I asked my students this question and wasn’t surprised by their range of responses:
“Homeless people don’t really need help. They should help themselves.”
“Homeless people aren’t really homeless. They are stealing money and choosing to not work.”
“It’s hard to tell if homeless people are legitimately homeless. My parents always give a dollar or two because you never know.”
“Is it our place to judge if they are or aren’t?”
Here’s a shocking comparison. When we were brought into existence on this earth and sin entered the world, we were all homeless in a sense. He (God) already intimately knew and created and called us, but we didn’t know Him. And when He tried to introduce Himself to us, we denied and abandoned Him. Some of us even went so far as to call Him a liar and Satan Himself. This is our human condition: sinners needing to be saved.