Confession: two nights this past week I ate potato chips for dinner, and nothing else.
I was going to write a lament about food allergies, but instead I find the Lord directing my thoughts in a different direction. While I ate potato chips because I couldn’t find anything non-allergenic to eat, there are many people in this world who would ration an entire bag of potato chips because it was the ONLY food in the house.
While I fret about whether or not food bought in restaurants contain wheat/soy/high fructose corn syrup/whey, there are hungry folks in my own neighborhood who never eat out at restaurants because there just aren’t the funds to do so.
There is a person living out of his car a mere three miles from my house. He parks his car at a local park equipped with restrooms and water fountains. Does this person have enough to eat? What can I do to help? These are the questions that I ponder during my quiet time today, and I realize that knowing my food allergies is a luxury. Having a full pantry is a luxury. Eating out after church at a restaurant with my family is a privilege, whether the food contains “evil” soy or not.
Jesus had a great deal to say about responding to the needs of those around us. In Matthew 25 he paints a vivid picture of what happens to those who care for others…and what happens to those who do not:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, it’s a great afternoon for giving thanks…and for pondering and praying about how I can safely reach out and help the homeless living in my neck of the woods. I want to be one of the righteous…don’t you?