Monday, March 7, 2011

the stranger

From Matthew 25
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

Once again, in a moment where I might have shown some of the sacrificial love Christ asks of us and is modeled by the early Church, I chose my own comfort and convenience. Here's the story...
I was driving home from my job a couple nights ago about 10:45p.m. and passed a man walking on the shoulder of the road. I was on a limited access section of Route 30, driving at about 60 miles per hour. By the time any real recognition of the scenario entered my brain, I was ½ a mile past him. He was wearing a black leather jacket with a well-worn, sleeveless denim jacket over it. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps I should see if this fellow needs a ride. But, what if he's drunk? What if he smells bad? What if he's going somewhere way out of my way? What if he's an axe murderer? And, now I'm 2 miles past him, so I'd have to get off the next exit, go back the opposite direction, get off, back on. As the next exit came into view-the one I'd need to take if I was to act on this idea- the debate in my mind became more urgent. Is this one of those hungry/thirsty/stranger situations Jesus spoke of?

I did not take the exit. I continued home, with the Christian contemporary radio station playing some song with lyrics something like 'where you go I will follow'... Apparently for me, though, as long as it isn't out of my way.

Would you have stopped? Would you have backtracked? How would you feel if your wife told you she, in that same scenario, had given him a ride? What if he looked, or was dressed differently? Where do we draw the line at this 'love your neighbor' business? Me? Obviously not where Jesus would want it drawn.