Then he (Jesus) added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’” Matthew 9:13 NLT
Carrying a flag, Jeffrey walks the streets of our city.
Six years ago, seeing a homeless person in our small town was odd. Then Jeffrey showed up. His long hair and scruffy beard waived in the wind, like the flag he carried. I thought he must have landed here from some far-away state. Then I learned from a friend—whose church he had visited, that he actually lived in the next town over. Because of drug use—and the resulting mental issues, his family had disowned him.
Occasionally, Jeffery disappears. Usually because he has been arrested for some minor infraction. After a few weeks, he’ll re-appear, only to disappear again. Recently, he was arrested for threatening firemen. He thought they had stolen his bicycle—another of his prized possessions, along with his flag and shopping cart.
My wife and I see Jeffrey often since he has adopted the street corner two blocks from our subdivision. Recently, he stood there in the dark, wearing dark clothes and dancing to the music that only he heard. We’ve also witnessed him cursing the cross planted on the corner where someone was hit and killed. And cursing the “Sidewalk Closed” sign when the road crew was repairing the road. His antics are comical—yet sad.
On several occasions, people have tried to help Jeffrey. One paid for him to spend time in a nearby city’s rehab facility to get cleaned up from drugs. Perhaps it worked for a while, but his antics of late demonstrate the demons have overtaken his life again.
When I see Jeffrey, I wonder how Jesus would respond to him. The religious leaders were good at obeying the letter of the law, but Jesus reminded them there was more. He wanted to see mercy—the mercy He showed to the Jeffrey’s of His world.
I can imagine Jesus sitting down and having a conversation with Jeffrey, questioning him about what he believes and what brought him to this point in his life. I can imagine Him offering him something to eat or a place to stay. I can also see Him giving Jeffrey the freedom to make his own life choices. Whatever Jesus would do, it would be tainted with mercy. He loved the world’s misfits—and we should too.
When you see those the world terms misfits, love them as Jesus would.
Prayer: Father, give us hearts of love for those who need to experience Your love.