Share a Coke with the Homeless?
Yesterday we began a new series called “GeneroCITY” at Access. It was inspiring and challenging and reminded me that generosity is so much less about what you have and so much more about how you think. Leaving church with my 3 children, I was presented with my first opportunity to live out this new message. As we pulled up to Zaxby’s to get some lunch, we came upon a homeless man who was sitting outside the restaurant.
It was a no-brainer to ask if we could get him some lunch. He thankfully accepted. I asked him if he’d like the chicken plate and he said “Yes, ma’am!” He then quickly added “And a coke to drink, please!”
Immediately upon hearing his words, I was flooded with some unwelcome memories of things I’ve seen on Facebook concerning the homeless. A dear friend of mine recently brought a post to my attention. She knew to alert me immediately because it is what you would call one of my “hot button” issues. The post was by a young Christian stating his disgust with a homeless man he had encountered. The man had asked for money and this Christian refused. He then proceeded to comment further that he will usually ask pandering homeless if they want prayer. If they refuse the offered prayer, then he will not give them anything further. Or, as he put it, “No prayer=no money.”
I saw red for a good few moments before I was able to collect myself and respond. I just couldn’t believe that someone who called himself a Christ-follower could possibly have this attitude. I like to call it “Charging For Charity.” It’s the attitude that says, “I’ll help you, but in MY way and on MY terms in a way that I deem right.”
When the homeless man I offered to buy lunch asked for a Coke, I shuddered to think what that man’s reaction would have been. “How dare he stipulate what you give him? He should just be thankful for what he gets!”
You know what I did when the homeless man asked me to get him a Coke? I got him a Coke. You know why? Because he likes Coke.
Stop acting like the homeless are just lucky to get what they get. Since when would you go to a restaurant and, when the server asks for your drink order, say “Just get me whatever you think I deserve.” You order the drink you desire because that’s the drink you like. The homeless are people with preferences just like you and I, they just lack resources. And please, for the love of all love, stop acting as if the homeless need to be charged for your charity. Meet their physical need (hunger) and maybe they’ll be more open to receiving something on a spiritual level. But even if they’re not, feeding them is still and always will be the right thing to do.
The way you carry out generosity matters. Your heart matters. The way you think matters. There’s a homeless man sitting somewhere today who misses the time when people asked him what he wanted instead of just assuming they know what he needs. Let’s change the way we think about giving and maybe share a Coke with a new potential friend today.