WEEK 8: Trouble with the Neighbours
“His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, ‘Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?’” (John 9:8, NIV)
The year had scarcely taken off when my neighbour came over and in no uncertain terms expressed his disgust with the manner in which we, according to him, “entertained beggars” that came to our front door seeking help. Living in an open complex and being the first house off the street, it is inevitable that most beggars who pass by see an opportunity for assistance where there is no fence to keep them out.
As fate would have it, at the same time as the neighbour came to express his unhappiness, a destitute family of five arrived at the front door. Needless to say, for our neighbor this was fuel on his fire: “Your people [referring to the beggars who I had never seen before] are posing a threat to our complex.” “These are not my people,” I replied. “I have no control over who comes to ask for assistance.” But he would hear none of that – someone needed to be blamed. And strangely enough, his words when he referred to the beggars as “your people” made me think.
If I profess to be a follower of Christ who believes that mankind was made in His image, these are “my people”. If I only look at them as destitute beggars, then they will pose a threat to all and forever remain “spiritually blind”. If I do not look at people with redemptive purposes, then yes, they will be a problem. Restoring dignity and assisting “my people” starts with a simple “What is your name?”; a word of encouragement and a heart that believes that anything is possible.
Let us look at the example of Jesus: “’Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’” (John 9:3-5, NIV)
For most of our lives, we try to avoid the destitute and the beggar. What a waste of the Christ-light entrusted to us.