In the book of Acts, chapter 3:1-6, the Apostles Peter and John encounter a lame beggar on there way to temple. The lame asked the Apostles for money to which Peter replied and scriptures say, they both looked at the man and said: “look at us”. When all three were looking at each other, Peter said: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you”.
Have you ever watched people approach a street beggar? Many will move to the opposite side of the sidewalk or, if they are unable to do so, will either lower their head and look at the ground or fiddle with their phone or something else to suggest they are too busy to notice someone seeking help. Have you ever wondered what the panhandler’s thoughts are when they witness this avoidance tactic? Most homeless people and street beggars are not naive to their situation. Many acknowledge that they contributed to their current situation and none will ever say their dream was to live on the street and beg for assistance. Regardless how they got there, their situation is both demoralizing and humiliating and watching people look away makes them feel like pariahs in their own communities.
In the name of Jesus, Peter gave the lame man the ability to walk. He could feel like a member of society; like a human being. He could go home, face his neighbours and participate in his own upkeep. Peter and John did something that reminds us that the needy are created in the image of God and are deserving of our love and respect. Peter and John made the effort to look and talk with the lame man and see his need. They were able to bring Jesus to another by simply acknowledging his existence. Those who are homeless or use food banks or suffer from invisible illnesses desire this acknowledgement not judgment or contempt.
God created us to live in relationship with one another but many don’t because they can’t get past outer appearances. On street corners there are visible reminders of people in need but many are blinded to them because they choose to look the other way or not to listen when they talk. Jesus taught that we must interact with those whom society overlooks or looks down upon. Followers should decide whether they should emulate Jesus’ behaviour or look the other way. Can we offer more than silver and gold to those around us? Can we do something about those needing food and shelter? Can we help those with family troubles, invisible illnesses such as PTSD, or a lack of hope? Can we look at and face someone who had been marginalized by society and see his or her need?
People need Jesus regardless of their status in society and followers of Jesus can offer Christ to them. It is easy to look at the misery in the world and ask: “why does God allow this to happen.” However, do you wonder if God asks the question: “why are we letting things happen around us when we are able to help?” We have the ability to help those around us but do we have the desire to face someone in need and say: “look at me” and listen them into existence?