The miracles have nothing to do with it.
So what? Jesus raised a few dead guys, made some sick people well and made sure the party didn’t spoil for lack of wine.
Of course, that’s usually why the holy landers paid him a visit. But if the mission is to develop productive Christians who spend their days contributing to the fruitful work of the Holy Spirit, skip all that hocus pocus stuff and get them on their knees!
An interesting strategy, maybe? But I’d bargain that two in every three knees that hit the floor wouldn’t have lasted much longer than the traveling Jesus team’s over night stay in a Jerusalem town.
Miracles gave Jesus an opportunity. It didn’t define his mission. Healing certainly got people’s attention. And it made them want what he had to offer so badly that they’d line up for days just to spend five minutes in his presence. He didn’t know them at all. But he loved them as brothers and sisters–each placed on this earth by the same Father. Of course he wanted to heal them. And the mental and physical pain he took from them did just that.
But let’s face it. Jesus had an ulterior motive. He came to save the world. (John 3:17)
Miracles certainly provided relief, nourishment and encouragement, but they really didn’t have a whole lot to do with what Jesus hoped his guests would take away from his encounter. No amount of healing alone could help the world to understand the life-time of responsibilities required by God’s call.
Considering Jesus and his marketing strategy, I’m not so sure Micah Ministries is taking all that different of an approach. Feeding, showering, clothing and meeting the most basic needs of those without, I think, are some of the most magical miracles of our modern times. With a meal, we cure a hungry belly. With a shower, we wash away a person without dignity. With a set of clothes, we straighten the back of one who could not be proud to be in public for the stains on his shirt or the holes in his shoes.
It’s certainly working for us. Our door is never shy of a person in need. But those miracles at their core, do not define our mission. We too, have an ulterior motive. If it takes a meal, a shower or pair of shoes to get a street man who doesn’t interact with people to cross our doors, so be it. For the hour he sits in our building, we get to know him and his needs. Soon, he trusts us enough to help him. He lets us take him to a psychiatrist. For the first time he starts to take medication. He decides to stop drinking. He begins to volunteer. One day, he gets a few hours work. Eventually, he’s working weeks at a time. And down the road, the little miracle that brought him to see us in the first place turns into a person with all the tools to move off the street and continue his journey as a valued member of society.
If that is a strategy that “enables” our homeless in anyway, I offer no apologies. Miracles, you see are just part of the process. Our men and women who sleep on the street tonight are the blind, the sick, the lame and the broken. How can we possibly expect them to believe we can help them with a job, a doctor a place to live or anything else, if we cannot address their most basic needs?
So go ahead, call us what you will. Name us, “soup kitchen enablers.” And accuse us of making it easy to be homeless. While you are caught up in our miracles, we are busy trying to save the world.