"I guarantee there isn't a homeless person in Portland who couldn't tell you the gospel verbatim. They've had to listen to it three times a day to get a sandwich. They've heard about Christ, but they haven't seen Christ. Who will sit next to them while they panhandle, who will enter their world? I've had friends doing that for 15 years. That is seeing the gospel."
-Rick McKinley serves as pastor of the Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon.
The quote hit me, because I have given a sandwich and a little "shout out" to God and thought I was doing a great deed. But on the challenge to do more and say less (or just do more to communicate Christ than words), sadly, the comments from readers tended to be about how many homeless people often are responsible for their situation and do not use the help they get properly. But here's a thought to play with: what if helping the poor wasn't all about "results"? Ever notice that Christ told us that we will always have the poor with us? My wife could share how about how many people played the system at the homeless shelter where she worked. The percentage of people who eventually became self-sustaining was low. So if Christ goes on to tell us to feed the hungry, what was the point?
Perhaps, we are supposed to learn the Godlike character trait of "wasting grace." Phillip Yancey wrote about how we are angered when God wastes His grace on the undeserving, not realizing that we ourselves are undeserving. So perhaps becoming more like Christ involves giving an ear and some food to people who very well may use it and "waste" it. If we have wasted God's grace so many times by repeating sin, by not actively pursuing good deeds, perhaps we should learn the joy of giving grace while getting nothing in return, which we forget IS grace.
But enough of that, I'm supposed to be doing important things like studying Greek...