I passed by the third homeless person on Mass Avenue and do not stop to give him any change. A few lonely coins rattle at the bottom of his grimy Big Gulp cup as I cruise to the subway stop. How does my faith guide me in this moment? If the kingdom of God is seen in the “least” among us, what have I just missed? What have I just refused to see as I pass by the stranger asking for spare change?
What’s the meaning of faith when we don’t even recognize the kingdom of God when it stretches it’s very hand out to us? Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “faith is being certain of what we do not see.”
How can I be faithful in that sense when I can’t even acknowledge when God is visibly, physically reaching out to me on the street corner?
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 reminds us, “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an external glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Is this passage meant to give hope to the homeless man in Harvard Square? Or is it a sentence of condemnation for me?
If you want to get biblical about it, the homeless man and I are the same person. We are all broken, all beggers, without hierarchy. Whether for spare change, for food, for mercy, for forgiveness – we are all begging, desperate and in need. We all must reveal our desperation and open ourselves to receiving grace. And we are all called to be Christ hands in those moments – stopping, bending down and serving.
If Christ is true, if the Gospel is true, it would seem that seeing Christ in the begger as well as seeing the beggar in me reflects the reality of what Paul tells the Corinthians is both “eternal” and “unseen.”
As we embrace, by faith, the reality of God that stands in front of us, we are in that moment living for another world, a truer world. In that moment, we are echoing our belief that the pleasure of God’s reality, what Paul calls “eternal glory,” is more authentic than what is “seen” – the world’s illusions and delusions grabbing for our allegiance.
Perhaps being faithful is believing and living like there’s truly no difference between any of us.
Read Matthew 25:31–46, 2 Corinthians 4 and Hebrews 11.
Lord, I confess to You that I am just as weak and broken as those who I perceive as being needy. I thankfully receive Your grace. Help me to live for eternal glory by serving those around me.