God is my Director

Youth ministry, movies, no drugs and a variable amount of Rock ‘n Roll

God bless the homeless man

Posted by Martin on November 30, 2006

Was on the train home from work just now when a homeless guy appeared, walking his way through the carriages and asking for money. It’s a fairly regular occurrence, and I’m ashamed to say that most times – just like today – I tend to look out of the window, find a point a thousand feet in the distance, and stare at it while he passes. I say I’m ashamed because when I write it out for all to see, it suddenly feels particularly un-Christ-like.

What I was struck by, however, was the guy’s response to the two people in my carriage who did find some loose change for him. To both of them, he repeated the same phrase:

‘God bless you.’

I don’t suppose these people, statistically speaking, would have been Christians. I don’t presume that our homeless friend was either. But yet he chose that phrase to thank them. A fuller version of that sentiment might be – ‘for the generosity that you have shown to me today, may God bless you.’ He was somehow recognising God’s role in the act of generosity – even if he was doing so subconsciously.

To take that further – and stop me if I’m leaping ahead too far – it’s as if, since God is love, the homeless guy saw God in what these people gave to him. They showed him love, ergo they showed him God. So his response, ‘God bless you’, actually makes perfect sense.

I’ve noticed this response many times before from people in need. They may not be people of faith, yet on some level, they devolve part of their thanks to ‘God’ when they receive help from a fellow human. We’re so used to hearing the phrase that we usually dismiss it as a colloquialism that has detached itself from faith and is now little more than a generic form of thanks. But is that missing the point? Actually, are these people acknowledging God, all around us, day by day?

If we look at the life of Jesus, we know he was biased to the poor and the needy. Is it a surprise then, that these are the people who are best at recognising His hand at work, even if the human hands He’s using aren’t aware of the fact?

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