Over coffee today this happened. Three of us chatted, shared thoughts, questioned ... until the conversation drew to a close with the call back to work. I now find myself left with the cold remains of a latte, and the need to pursue the thoughts further. Perhaps this is the place for this? Maybe you can add something different, something unique to the mix that generates a more complete perspective, resulting in a more Christ-like response.
I could lean on Kolb and take the experience around his cycle to find an answer - but I would rather ask you what you think ... and we will work it out from there. Much more friendly this way isn't it?
The 'Concrete Experience'?
For the last few weeks, a man has come into our church, before the service, asking for a bag of food. His appearance is 'tatty' and he is in need of a good wash. Not much is known about him, although it is clear that he is not new to the area, or, it seems, to the situation he finds himself in. Each week he is offered coffee whilst a food bag is made up for him. He drinks the coffee, engages in a small amount of conversation, takes the bag, and leaves.
We are able to make up a food bag for him out of the food that is donated for a charity that has its base in our church. However, this food is really already accounted for, and ready to give out to other people in the area that are in need.
We are also involved in the Food Bank that is about to open up in the area, so have food being collected for this as well.
The problem is, neither of these charities work by giving people that just walk in food. They are recommended by and then looked after by various services.
When we give away their food, we are, in effect, stealing from them. We are robbing from Peter to pay Paul. This situation may continue. What should we do?
- Does supplying this man with a bag of food really meet his needs?
- Are we helping him to find a more sustainable way to live?
- Do our actions encourage him to find life to the full in a relationship with Jesus? Perhaps he already has this?
- Does providing him with food result in him having money to spend on activities or substances that we may not be in favour of? Do we have a right to judge this?
- When we hand out food - is that our 'job done' or is there more to it?
- What if, by continually giving out food in this way, we find ourselves in a situation in which we are no longer able to supply food to those with an identified genuine need?
Dare I ask it, if we continue to provide a bag of food each week are we showing the love of Jesus or do we risk being taken advantage of? What if 'the word on the street' is that free food is given out without question and the demand becomes greater than the supply? What if it doesn't stop with food?
What then should we do with this:
'Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.' (Luke 6:30)
'I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.' (Matthew 10:16)
What is the relationship between love and wisdom in this situation?
Is love always the trump card?
What do you think?