It is the last week of the Quarter of my first term at Fuller Seminary. Last night a classmate and I walked to “Old Town” Pasadena to finish up a group paper for one of our classes. As we sat talking and thinking about how to “Develop Community” for those who call themselves Christian I heard the jingling of coins behind my ear. As I turned and look up from my seat on
the dimly lighted patio, I saw a the face of an older man with many characteristics of someone who made their bed on the streets at night. Through his difficult speech I deciphered a request for money to buy some coffee inside. I will be honest, he was the third individual in the last hour to ask me for money, and up until that point I had refused to hand over any for an undisclosed purpose. However, as I asked this gentlemans name and looked him in the eye, I suggested we use what we both had in our pockets to buy his desired cafe treat.
Making our way inside it was clear that his presence affected a few patrons as due to his poor sight he needed to press his face into the display case to get a sense of what he could purchase. I quietly mouthed to one young woman who was cut off by this act “You’re okay”. As we purchased the coffee and scone together there was no “Thank you” or gratitude that came from the mans lips, only a shuffling of feet over to the cream and sugar to prepare his newly acquired treat .I told him to take care and that is was nice to meet him.
It was a very interesting scene to see how people responded to this mans presence and to be associated with his “unwelcomed” vibe that ensued the cafe. I thought of many moments when I too had walked into a room or around a certain group of individuals and received this same feeling. I think the difference is that there are internal and external factors that make this vibe known to us.
We may mistreat our loved ones, make poor moral choices, or simply dress in clothing that leads to unfortunate malfunctions for dozens of strangers to ogle at. Overall, the key mark of virtue, and of valuing one another isn’t what you may receive from stepping forth and partnering in a spirit of acceptance. I could have felt “put off” by the request for money, or by the lack of gratitude for showing a bit of kindness. For me, this wasn’t my interest. My concern was whether I was practicing the very thing I am studying to become, a transformed person of Christ. This was kept in mind as I hoped to empower my new friend by using both our resources in a partnership to meet his needs.
How are we partnering with those around us to perpetuate a sense of acceptance and provision of internal and external needs? How can we develop community in our little worlds
that seem too often to be concerned with insecurities and self interests? How might the world know who we are as people following a faith ifthey cannot see it in the way we love each other?