Friday, January 06, 2006

The Magic Words

Living here in Glenwood certainly provides its share of unique experiences. Though not an every day occurance, it's not surprising to have a knock on the door late at night from a passerby in need of help, and the trick becomes how to discern whether or not their story is true. There are certainly some good questions to use as a litmus, but even then, things may not be as they seem. Now, I am by nature a sucker for a sad story, and I also love to please people, which makes me tend to want to help. I'm getting better at not giving in, but there are magic words that still make me want to help no matter what: "I know that you all are Christians."

Now, I am not saying that it is right to always respond to those words with help, but they communicate an expectation that Christians always help those in need and that it was my obligation to help. It's a powerful motivator when someone says that you are not acting as Jesus would if you don't help them. And it is so easy to respond to that by just doing what they want. But is that love? Is that what Jesus would always do? Each case is different, and to help them or not to help them can each be an act of independence from God (also known as sin). I am trying to grow in listening for the one Voice and one Motivation that should always precede action or inaction. The hard thing is sorting out that Voice from guilt, fear, annoyance, and pity (which is not the same as compassion).

6 comments:

katie said...

this is something that our house also struggles with. being three single white girls living in southern barton heights/gilpin court area, we've attracted our fair share of attention doing everything from moving in, to having a house collapse into our living room (ah yes, that has been exciting). we had so many people approach us the first month or so, we put crackers and juice boxes in our front closet for easier access. like you, i am a sucker for a sad story and a people pleaser, which normally makes me an easy sell/target. we haven't had anyone pull the "christian" card, yet, but we still struggle with knowing what really is a christ-like response to many of these people. we see our neighbors calling the cops and screaming at the prostitutes and drug dealers, using words that should never be directed at human beings. but we don't want to enable anyone, like the one man who came to our house almost every night for a month. what is actually loving that person? what does it mean to be a good steward in this context? i feel like these are things we are constantly re-evaluating. thank for the ponderings, marshall...

Macon said...

I imagine that being bleary eyed and foggy brained from sleep doesn't help the discernment process either. Wow.

The Lord be with you!

Marshall said...

Katie -- who is this? I tried to link on your post but did not see a profile.

katie said...

supranowitz -- sorry to drop in unidentified. ak has gotten me stalking people via blogs these days...

Marshall said...

What is the "Southern Barton Heights" area? What is the context, and what made you choose to live there?

katie said...

southern barton heights is the general area where alex and kelly used to live. our house is right off north ave, the murder capital of richmond, and just across the train tracks from gilpin court, the notorious housing project in the city. i'd been praying for awhile on whether or not the lord was calling me to move to the inner city. i tend to get really passionate about things quickly, and wanted to make sure it wasn't just a whim of mine, but something the lord wanted. i knew enough to know i didn't want to move there if god wasn't calling. i was also looking for a roommate at the time of this thought-process, and ended up feeling like i should commit to living with my friend who was in the market for buying a house. at that point, she didn't know where she was going to end up. the lord answered my question and need with one answer. one of the main reasons i wanted to be here was to experience life as a minority in at least one context of my life. i think ultimately i knew that my life wouldn't be the same, that i couldn't move here and be unchanged, and i knew i wanted that. i'm not sure i had any more vision/reasoning.