By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
The answer to every social issue is love and a healthy dose of respect for the other man or woman’s opinion.
Sadly, it’s something we don’t see a whole lot these days, with people’s opinions of whatever political or theological persuasion on verbal overdrive and the taking refuge in media that re enforce their own opinions. Where have all these vitriol fueled rants got us? Nowhere, perhaps other than to make God weep as we bask in our self appointed, self “anointed” self righteousness.
We’re so busy staking a claim to our corner of the digital public square that the adrenalin pumping through our angrily expanding veins causes us to lose sight of how we could make a real difference. Make a decision that www.pleasezipitnow.com should be the controlling factor for what we say and write in anything other than a spirit of love, and in the time saved, stop judging people and work out how we could help them.
I talked about that lack of love and our lust for judgement in a story I wrote some time ago. It was the result of a simple update on Facebook, similar to one I have done many times before.
A generic picture of a couple of men obviously experiencing hard times, sprawled out on the sidewalk. My caption read, “If you see someone in need of shelter, let us know by calling Joy Junction at 800 924 0569. We’ll do our best to help.”
One response, posted on my personal Facebook page, astounded me.
It was from a man who according to his profile didn’t even live in Albuquerque, and as far as I know had never met me. It read, “Will you support men who refuse to work for a living, or insist on getting drunk or high all the time?”
The individual then went on to quote from the Biblical book of 2 Thessalonians 3, verses 6 though 15. However, the way he did so was with the drumbeat of judgment and condemnation, not with the sound of love.
The passage, taken out of context by my Facebook “friend,” is addressed to Christians who are busybodies, not working, and sticking their nose in other people’s business. Verse 10 says, (presumably why my “friend” quoted the passage) “If any would not work, neither should he eat.”
However, it was not referring to people who are in the grip of substance addiction.
I responded. “From an exegetical standpoint, the verses which you use refer to Christian brothers, and not those who haven’t made a commitment to Christ.”
I added, “While neither alcohol or illegal drugs are allowed at Joy Junction, they are not the issue. For those who struggle with such issues, we look to what … issues have forced people to take refuge in them.”
I continued, “Often it is a result of abuse or circumstances too awful for us to imagine. If we don’t provide at least minimal assistance (in the hope that they will ultimately accept Jesus), how should we respond? Is it Biblical to let people starve/go hungry on the streets? We believe not.”
I haven’t heard from him since.
Wanting to get an idea of what others thought of this man’s response, I asked our Joy Junction Facebook fans for their input. They were quick to respond.
Enola said it’s “amazing” how some people interpret the Scriptures. “Jesus came for the broken, the sick and those who had the ears to hear His message of love and forgiveness. These folks are broken, and a hand to lift up is a good and right thing to do. An introduction to Jesus and the Gospel along with a hot meal and a bed is a ministry from God.”
I loved what Robin wrote. “It’s odd to me that anyone could see a brother or sister in need, and have to consult the Holy Bible regarding the recipients worthiness of assistance. That just strikes me as odd …”
Robin added (tongue in cheek), “I guess it’s nice that the Bible hadn’t been written yet for the stable owner to read, and determine maybe Mary and Joseph were too pathetic to be pregnant and wondering around with no place to stay.”
Richard, who said he lives on 1st Street in Albuquerque, between Lomas and Mountain, said he sees scenes every morning like the one in the picture. I appreciated his response.
He wrote, “I make them coffee and give a few bucks and blankets. In the summer they just ask, ‘Can I please use your water hose to shower and drink?’ I cry a lot.”
Linda said if we were in the position of those people shown in the picture, we for sure would want someone to help us out.
She continued by saying that if anyone is concerned about where exactly their money will go to, then give support to area agencies, or buy the needy people you see a cup of hot coffee and a sandwich, or give a blanket.
She concluded, “I bet that deep down inside, you feel good about what you have done. It’s very cold outside. We need to love and care more for our brothers and sisters out there.”
Ron was also on target, commenting “There will always be haters trying to discourage a helping hand. Wait a minute. Wasn’t it Jesus who surrounded himself with people just like these?” Yes it was.
John quoted right from the Bible-in context. He wrote from John 8, verses 1 through 7
Verse 6 (b) reads that Jesus said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Good words. If you’re going to use the Bible to support your position, at least make sure that what you’re saying is what the Bible as a whole advocates. And in all things, make sure that your motivation is one of love.
In case you’re wondering, Joy Junction is firmly based on the Bible. However, we just don’t feel comfortable condemning people. They feel bad enough already. We’re content to be instruments of God’s love, and let that bring them to wholeness.