The Common Good

Loving Our Neighbors When Times are Hard

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Times are hard. I work at a homeless shelter for single men with a resource center in the front offices for homeless individuals and families, and business has been booming lately. We have seen a dramatic increase in people coming through our doors seeking assistance. Some have seen their budgets tighten dramatically due to increases in gas and food prices and are simply frequenting food banks they used to donate to. In fact, our food banks in the area are running out of food because of the increased demand. Others have lost homes and need a safe place for their children to sleep at night. And still others have recently lost jobs and are looking for ways to prevent ending up on the street, often with their family.

For those of us with the time to write, read, and comment on blogs, let us not forget our neighbors who must spend that time looking for work or food. Let us who have an empty guest room not forget those whose only ceiling tonight will be the stars and only bed a bench. Times are hard, and it is in times like these that the body of Christ must act as such by recommitting ourselves to bringing good news to the poor, healing the sick, welcoming the stranger, and feeding the hungry. Our faith in the ways of the world has failed us yet again. Let us recommit ourselves to the ways of God's kingdom.

At the same time we must not forget our global neighbors. We, as Christians, cannot succumb to a narrow view of the world or xenophobia and forget our sisters and brothers around the world. There are children in Haiti literally eating mud pies to survive. The numbers of people starving around the world has skyrocketed. There have been riots that have erupted on multiple continents because food is no longer affordable. Our sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe are dealing with an inflation rate in the millions while we contend with one around 5 percent. Times are not just hard for us. They are hard for billions around the world.

In our world where money can be sent overseas in minutes, we can visit any corner of the world we want to within hours, and we can talk to people at any spot on the planet within seconds, we have no excuse to forget those around the world in need. We are connected with them because they are family. As a family that gathers around God's table, where all are welcome, we must make sure everyone has a plate and that it is full.

Times are hard, but let us not forget our neighbors down the street or around the world. Let us remember it was not those who gave out of their abundance that Jesus commended, but the woman who gave her last two pennies, out of her need when times were hard, that he praised. Yes, times are hard, but God is still good and we should be too.

Jimmy McCartyJimmy McCarty is a student at Claremont School of Theology studying Christian ethics, a minister serving cross-racially at a church in inner-city Los Angeles, and a servant at a homeless shelter five days a week. He blogs at http://jimmymccarty.wordpress.com/.

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