Please, Even A Smile Helps

He is there on the same street corner every morning on my way to work. I’ve glanced at the sign then quickly turn away in disgust. A few days ago, after I had looked away yet again, I took the time to ponder my reaction to the words on that sign and to ask myself, “Why?” What does it really cost me if I just give him a smile? One human to another? Did I even consider this disheveled, dirty, matted hair and beard, type of man, a human at all?

I delved a bit further into the motives of my heart and that’s where Jesus met me to allow me to sense my own shame and wickedness. This homeless man is not really the problem. It is my own selfish, unyielding heart. God accepts me just as I am, and he accepts the homeless man just as he is. He has compassion on us all, and perhaps even more so on the Epic-homeless-guy-signhomeless, drug-addicted, alcoholic, abusive child molesters–because they have hit rock bottom and feel their desperate need for rescue day after day. They are incredibly shamed by people like me who look away. And all he wanted from me was a smile.

Why exactly do I look away? Is it because I am afraid he will make a connection with me, expecting me to now give him some money? Or am I not willing to listen when the Holy Spirit speaks to me about the fact that everything I own is his to do with for his own glory and praise? I think of the Scripture verse, Matthew 19:21, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor; and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” I don’t believe God is literally telling each of us to give all we own to the poor. He is speaking to the condition of our hearts. He knows we won’t give the homeless so much as a smile; he also knows we won’t part with even an occasional dollar. We are so quick to judge the poor and homeless, even though we don’t know their stories. God, alone knows their hearts, and he listens to their heart’s cry.

How sad we would be if we looked to God for help and he turned away from us in disgust. In fact, he has already done that. He turned away from his only Son when he was nailed to a cross, dying for our sins. He could not look upon the man he loved more than any other human being because all our shame and garbage was taken from us and heaped upon Christ, in exchange for his righteousness. So, next time you see that same sign, beckoning for a smile, try giving him one and perhaps you will see God smiling in return. And if God puts it upon your heart to help in some way, do it.

That’s worth smiling about!

Marred Image

imagesCAV2TKK3Worship at Mars Hill Church in Seattle is never a boring, somber affair. I always feel the Lord’s presence and am acutely aware of my need to come before God in humility and “to worship Him in Spirit and truth.” (John 4:24).

One of the many things I like about the songs we sing at Mars Hill, is that most of them are old hymns that have been put to different music. The original lyrics are beautiful and rich in meaning, and the upbeat music helps create a more vivid image of God’s holiness and love for His creation. I can’t help but think that He is smiling down on us as we all lift our hands and faces to him. Even though I can’t sing worth a darn!

The following poem is one that I wrote about a year ago. It incorporates snippets of the verses of some of those hymns as well as the realization that apart from Jesus Christ, I am unworthy to even call God my Father. My image (as well as the image of every human being) was marred at the fall of all creation, but we are still made in God’s image and because Jesus died and cancelled our debt to God, if we but trust in Him through acknowledgement of our own sin and brokenness, we will one day see that our image will be made perfect and whole before Him. I can’t wait! Lots of symbolism in this one, which made it delightful to write. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Male and female made He them.

Oh! Look at that fruit!

In His own image made he them.

Isn’t it good to eat!

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Jesus, the firstborn among men.

They heard Him walking in the garden.

Now they will die.

Now He will die.

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It’s too late to ‘pologize, it’s too late!

My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me!

Now I lay me down to sleep, my sexual sins I’d like to keep.

Why art thou far from me?

What your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might!

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Oh! Look at that fruit!

Isn’t it good to eat!

Is that a worm in the apple?!

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Behold your redemption draweth nigh!

Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin!

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the…Jesus!

Whose is that image in the mirror?

I can’t see a thing. The mirror is stained with…

Is that blood?imagesCA1BS70E