“I don’t know why we are so afraid of the homeless,” writes Connie Jakab at Culture Rebel.

As someone who works in a city, my heart sadly affirms Connie’s observation. It becomes a force of habit to keep my eyes straight ahead when walking down the street. To just ignore pleas for loose change. To avoid eye contact with the person holding the “homeless” sign while stopped at a red light. It’s one thing to not be able to give, or to not feel comfortable giving. But Connie is right – all too often we privileged members of society behave as if we’re downright afraid of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

Connie’s piece on inviting her community’s resident homeless man over for Thanksgiving dinner is inspiring, especially as we move into the winter months and holiday season. She writes,

“Lawrence [our homeless friend] left a little teary. Before he left he said; ‘One of the most beautiful things people can share is a meal together.’ I was touched by his statement as it’s one of my dreams for my home. I dream of a ‘table of misfits’…

Our homes can be lighthouses, a beacon of hope for those who need it. My kids can’t wait to have Lawrence over again. He’ll be over for dinner again very soon.”

Her reminder is needed, and the initiative to help our destitute neighbors is a journey that Christians and nonChristians alike can work together toward. Last Christmas, Hollywood reminded us of how seriously God commands us to care for the poor in the epic feature Les Miserables. Crosswalk author Stephen Bloom gives us “The Big Picture on Genuinely Helping the Poor,” discussing practical suggestions for charity, discipleship, and justice.

Dr. Ray Pritchard writes a beautiful reflection on Jesus’ teaching that helping the poor means we are helping God himself.

“One day, long after we’ve forgotten the frustrations of this life, he will remember it. And we will be rewarded. It all comes down to this. Jesus forgets what we remember. And he remembers what we forget. You might even say that the whole gospel is in those two sentences.

Lord Jesus, give us eyes to see you in the hurting, hungry, helpless people all around us. Then give us your heart to reach out to you and for you in your name, Amen.”

How can you apply this in your own life? How can you think of ways to lift others out of poverty, or draw the needy into your community?

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com

Publication date: October 16, 2013