Not in My Backyard

Written by Jim Moon, pastor of Park Memorial in Jeffersonville.

 

I would like to address the spiritual implications of this conversation. I’d like to say that I have no right, nor am I attempting to force my religious convictions on people who do not follow Jesus Christ. I am speaking strictly to those who would call themselves a follower of Christ and who have a church that they call home. Jesus’s existence as the Messiah was intended to “bring good news to the poor” (Is. 61:1). Jesus would never utter the mantra “Not in My Backyard” out of his mouth. The idea that any group of Christians would say, “We don’t want them here,” in reference to any group of vulnerable people indicates the group might not know what it means to be a follower of Christ. 

 

Matthew 25:31-46 should be one of the most informative parables to our Christian conscience. This passage speaks to the way the King will recognize his followers when he returns to take them to be with him where he is. The King will recognize his followers by the way they feed the hungry, the way they give water to the thirsty, the way they invite strangers into their homes, the way they clothe the naked, the way they look after the sick, and the way they visit those who are in prison. The bottom line is that the way the King will recognize his followers is by the way they treat the “least of these.”

 

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Ever since God gave us the context of the whole world in which to work, Christians have been trying to limit its scope. They think to themselves, “God cannot mean that he wants me to reach the person I don’t like. God cannot mean that he wants me to broker forgiveness for the murderer, for the drug addicts, or even for people that don’t look like me, smell like me, and act like me.” Exclusion of people is not a Christian concept.

 

If you have made it your mission to exclude others, then the question that Jesus asked Peter applies to you, “Do you love me?” If you know of Jesus’ love for you, then you know Jesus’ love has no bounds (John 21:15-17). Jesus is always invitational. Jesus would be inviting people into his neighborhood because he values people more than property. Jesus would minister to the needs of the vulnerable and do everything in his power to protect public safety at the same time. Jesus always invites the stranger into his presence. If our faith isn’t in alignment with Christ’s teachings in this matter, then we need to question whether we are really the disciples we think we are. 

#graceprevails #homelesspeoplematter #followJesusexample #pleaseshare


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