Under the Overpass

        Maybe you`ve heard about the book Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski, maybe you haven`t. This blog is to share with you the difficult truths this book helped me to face, and to learn from. On the cross country road trip I was on for the past month, I didn`t expect to see or face homelessness the way that I did. God broke my heart in a new and unexpected way, one that I know won`t go away. Below are some of my favorite quotes given in the book, and also a short story, taken from a chapter of the book. It is a story that should be told by every single Christian on earth. But the hard truth is-it isn`t. Christians don`t live that way. We don`t sacrifice our time, our comfort, our money, to care enough. To care at all. The thoughts and stories of this book moved me to care more, to care deeply. But what moved me even more, was going to some of those same places where Mike lived, and seeing the utter despair and brokenness that filled those streets. And in seeing it, feeling the broken heart of our God, our savior, who died for each of those lives. Go buy the book, you can get it online for $3.20, and read it. Read through John and see how Jesus lived his life as a homeless man, and how he treated the homeless around him. Let it break your heart...let it move you.

            The exclusion of the weak and insignificant, the seemingly useless people from everyday Christian life in community may actually mean the exclusion of Christ; for in the poor sister or brother, Christ is knocking at the door. Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

            In his book Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes, “We are all equally privileged but unentitled beggars at the door of God’s mercy.” I thought of that as person after person walked past without donating or even making eye contact. I felt my frustration rising until I realized how unentitled I really was. no one deserves mercy. And no one walking by owed us a dime. Mercy is, by definition, undeserved, or else it isn’t mercy. 

           What’s your definition of a Christian? It is broad enough to encompass the drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and broken people of the world? Jesus said that he came to heal the sick. Drug addicts are messed up just the same as liars are messed up, just the same as all humans are messed up. We all need Jesus. We all struggle with personal ways in which sin plays itself out in our lives. 
            What’s worse? To not do dope or to not love your brother? Why do we kick drug users out of the church wile quietly ignoring those who aren’t dealing with other, equally destructive sins? Why do we reject the loving, self-sacrificing, giving, encouraging, Jesus-pursuing drug addict but recruit the clean, self-interested, gossiping, loveless churchgoer? Which one do you suppose Jesus would rather share a burrito with under a bridge?

            "Something critical is missing in places that care for the broken and needy if the only people there are also broken and needy."

"Why do we so often overlook obvious ways to show the love of God we so loudly proclaim? Without waiting for an answer I charged on. If someone’s thirsty, give them a drink! If someone’s hungry, feed them! I mean, this is not complicated stuff.
            Who is to show the world Christ’s love if not the church?
            No one."

           The next evening, just before Sam and I left the park to panhandle, the “other Jesus guy” arrived. We saw him parking a small car across the street. When he called out to a few park people, they cheered and shuffled over, returning with twelve boxes of pizza. While a group gathered to chow down, “the other Jesus guy” joined us.
            “I’m George,” he said. “Are you guys new around here? I don’t remember seeing you before.”
            “Yea,” Sam said, “We’re just sort of passing through.”
            “We came in on the Greyhound about two weeks ago from Portland, but we were in the Tenderloin for a while,” I added.
            “Wow!” George said, eyebrows raised. “Tough place!”
            Later when the pizza was gone and the three of us were walking the empty boxes to the dumpster we had the chance to talk more. I asked George why he came to the park.
            “What do you mean?” George looked confused.
            “The pizza, hanging out down here, being nice to people no one else cares about. All of it. Why?”
            “I figure they’re hungry, and hey, everybody likes pizza, right?” said George. But he looked uncomfortable with the questions.
            “That’s the easy answer,” Sam said. “What’s the real reason?”
            “Okay,” George said, realizing we were serious. “You really want to know? I do this because my faith tells me to. The Bible clearly said, if you see someone hungry, feed them; if you see someone naked, clothe them. Those words weren’t written for us to make books and sermons about. They’re written so people don’t go hungry and naked. And they require action from all followers of Christ, not just the rescue missions. Anyway, that’s how I see it. so I’m trying to live my life that way and be pleasing to Jesus.”
            “Isn’t it amazing,” I said. “that when we live as were called and do what we’re commanded, the gospel does get preached-one way or another?”

       These are stories, not just words. This is life, this is the world we live in and are called to be the change in! Jesus break the heart of your church, your people for these needs. Break us and show us how much we need you-how much we need a savior. May all the glory be yours.

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