I work with High School Students and part of every summer I send out gobs of them to go see the world and try to make a difference in the name of Christ. At the moment about 150 students and leaders are either on or getting ready for a trip to Philadelphia, New York City, Guatemala, Czech Republic or Haiti.
So on a visit to one of these teams recently, I was confronted with how much I need to learn.
See, I spent the day with a team who was in the city for a week and I was getting ready to come home. I was walking down a street and I saw a guy up ahead with a cup asking for money. I had pretty much resolved to "give to whoever asks of you" (Jesus) when I come into situations like this, but this was a little weird.
The guy looked totally strung out and as I was approaching he got pretty close to my ear and was talking at conversation level in the midst of a noisy city. It was all pretty unsettling - kinda creepy. It was the same feeling you get when a gnat flies in your ear and you instinctively jerk your head and get all defensive. I moved on, annoyed. It wasn't until halfway down the block that I was able to analyze what he said. He said, "I need a dollar for some pizza." I then put it together - he was standing outside a $1 pizza joint. He was hungry for a slice.
My first reaction was to push through it. "There will be others" I said. "How annoying that he would invade my personal space with his zombie-like request" I thought. I think I settled on something like, "That's just what the city is like."
Ha! That is all I needed. That kind of thinking is what take the humanness from us. "We become the monster so the monster won't break us." (U2 . . . paraphrased).
Anyhow, a little revolution took place in my soul. No way I am going to become cold to move through the city. And so what if he is strung out - it means he needs more from me rather than less!
So in an effort to bypass the self-congratulatory ending, I will let you figure out what happened next. Or better - why don't you finish it for me the next time you pass someone that needs something. Give out of the principle that giving is in itself the good act. If enough of us do, we will all change.