Jesus the Messiah - “If salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
Today was the day of the Urban Plunge, which is (in my opinion) the most challenging and eye opening experience for the youth group. I assumed this group would be no different, from their hesitancy and fearful questions, as I explained to them that they would be going out into centers of homelessness in DC to eat dinner with a person in need of a meal. And they would do this all on 5 dollars (which was really only 2 dollars after bus fare to the site and back).
After the five hours or so of exposure to lifestyle of a homeless person, all 15 Jr. High students got back together and I proceeded to discuss their experience (which was really easy to do, as every kid had some story about interacting with the homeless, being rejected by the rich who walked by their pan-handling, or how they had managed to share a meal on only 2 dollars.) After hearing several stories of anger and annoyance at being ignored while asking for help getting a meal or seeing people walk by the homeless without acknowledging they even existed, I pressed the question: how often do we walk by the homeless and not even think twice?
In the blink of an eye, I watched as the group began to back pedal their way out of the question. Excuses poured in just as fast as the excited stories had poured out.
“Well, I have met a homeless man who was a professional pan-handler who made hundreds of dollars. These people want to take advantage of those of us with good hearts.”
“Yea, and once my cousin saw a homeless man with a sign that asked for helping getting food. And she offered to buy him some food at the grocery store and he got angry because all he wanted was her money.”
“Besides, there are no homeless people where we live. I don’t walk by homeless people ever.”
I am no different, as my eyes become more and more jaded to the homeless as the weeks of interacting through CSM with the homeless continue. I still wrestle and struggle with what it means to be salt to the homeless: how can I justify doing urban ministry while at the same time going out to eat on my time off, paying 10 dollars for dinner? How many excuses can I make for refusing a man my spare change, saying I have no money, even though I am going to withdraw money from an ATM?
It is often stated that it only takes a little salt to preserve the food it is put on. It would only take a few Christians committed to being salt in their communities to bring flavor and establish the Kingdom. But when salt has lost its saltiness, its commitment to be Jesus to those around it, and keeps the salt on the shelf or uses it as a table centerpiece, it is good for nothing at all.
What would it take for me to be poured out like salt?
-Alex Thompson, CSM Washington DC City Host Summer 2009