Recently, our church, and more specifically the small groups at our church, have become aware of some needs at our local high school. I don't know who initiated this relationship, but have already seen God at work in it. When we first heard about some of the issues that people in our local school community were facing, it was kind of a shock. I mean, we live in Hudsonville for crying out loud. Hudsonville, which by all appearances has it all together. There are churches on just about every corner, and lots of nice cars and nice homes in the area. We may be close to Grand Rapids, but certainly we do not have the kinds of problems that they have.
Yet over the course of a few weeks, we found out that there are teens in our community that are considered homeless. Homeless. In Hudsonville. How is that possible? There is a food bank set up specifically for families of the high school to use because there has been such an increase in the need. One of the school counselors is keeping granola bars, easy mac and other "fast" foods on hand because there are so many kids coming through her doors that haven't had breakfast and may not have dinner available when they get home.
Now, I don't know the reasons for all of these difficulties. I know that I often struggle with becoming cynical and judgemental when I hear about situations like these. It's easy to start wondering why these things might be happening and get so caught up in finger pointing and blame casting that we forget what we have been commanded to do. Darin recently shared something he had read in the Today devotional. It was based Luke 16:19-31, the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Here is the devotion that went with the passage:
“BUT I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!”
Before we look at this story Jesus told, let’s notice a few things it doesn’t say. The story says nothing about how the rich man got his wealth. We don’t know whether it was an inheritance, a good business, or dishonest tax collecting that brought in his money. All we know is that he was rich.
Nor does Jesus tell us why Lazarus was poor. Was he a drunk, a disabled person, or maybe a victim of extortion? All we know is that he was poor. (italics mine)
We also see that the rich man did no direct harm to Lazarus. Jesus said Lazarus lay at the man’s gate, but he does not say the rich man kicked him as he went by, or mocked him.
Why then was the rich man’s punishment so severe? He earned an eternity of suffering.
The rich man’s sin was neglect. Lazarus lay at his door day after day, and the rich man failed to do anything for him. His sin was a sin of omission. The rich man knew of Lazarus’s hardships but did nothing about them, although he was in a position to help.
In our world, the poor are constantly at our door as well. The media make us aware of their presence daily. According to Jesus’ story, it seems not to matter how we got our money, or how the poor became poor. But if we fail to use our resources to help the poor and needy, we condemn ourselves.
After getting permission from the high school counselor, I passed on some of the stories that we had heard to my friend Sarah, who writes a blog called "Give Me Neither". A couple days ago Sarah wrote a post about the needs of the high school and also provided links to coupons and deals in the area to help meet some of those needs. Even if you don't live in Michigan, please check out her post to look at some of the things that your own local high school might appreciate receiving.