I was driving in Five Points South the other day and saw the most interesting sight: a homeless man walking in the middle of the street, stopping traffic. Normally when driving in the city I don’t think of this as a big deal; many times people are selfish and will walk into the middle of the street outside the crosswalk because they don’t care about oncoming traffic, which is unfair to the drivers, but those people just want to get where they are going without regard for others.
What I believed to be seeing (the exact situation I just described) turned more curious upon seeing the man simply standing in the middle of the street until it became apparent what this guy in tattered and dirty clothes was doing: he was helping an elderly woman with a walker across the street.
Now the question is, why is this story so important to you sitting in your pew today? To better understand an application you have to realize just how badly living as a homeless person is; it is a struggle to simply survive. Natural survival is a dirty, dangerous, unethical, and at times sinful process, and one that we don’t fully comprehend because, let’s face it, we are blessed. We have food on our table and a shelter above us, and if we don’t, we can make a few calls to friends/family/church members and have that problem changed. That guy helping the lady across the street probably doesn’t have that. He probably has sins that have taken over his entire life. He probably has to worry about how he will stay dry when it’s going to rain.
One reason why we are afraid of such people is because they operate outside of the social boundaries and contracts that make up our demographic society (middle class and suburban); they will do whatever it takes to survive, and that can be a dangerous thing. Yet in this one guy’s mind wasn’t some act of survival, it was pure compassion. He saw someone in need and put his own physical well-being on the line in order to help someone who needed it.
The idea of compassion isn’t something that has been conditioned inside of us because of our culture and emotional background; it is instilled in us from our God. Unfortunately we are often too concerned about our own survival (how are those bills going to get paid?) to realize that there are people all around us who need compassion. If we take a few moments to stop and look, we might just be shocked at how badly this world needs compassion, and it will change your life when you realize that you can be that instrument of unadulterated kindness that God desires us to be.