Is your neighbor hungry?

I heard something really disturbing in church this morning. Something not terribly surprising, I guess, but something that isn’t right. There are kids in that community that aren’t getting enough to eat.

I go to church in Oakville, Mo. Oakville is a sleepy, isolated, upper-middle class suburb along the Mississippi River. On the surface, it’s the picture of affluence: Nice cars, manicured lawns, big houses. But somehow, there are homeless people there. Or people who are having to choose between buying groceries or paying bills, apparently.

If it’s happening in Oakville, it’s happening other places.

And since today is Sunday, let’s see what God thinks of that. We’re going to go and look at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yeah, I’m going there. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah mostly appears in Genesis, but there’s an important detail in Ezekiel:

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. Ezekiel 16:49

That’s not normally what we think of when we think of that story. We think of carnal living, ending in a flash thanks to fire and brimstone raining down from above. We don’t think of a town like Oakville, where it’s difficult to buy anything more risque than the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. And when we live in a town like that, it’s easy to get the mistaken idea that we’re pure and holy and there’s nothing wrong with us.

But if you take that passage from Ezekiel, we can pretty much take any affluent city in this country and substitute its name for Sodom, can’t we?

Should I be afraid of what God could do to me? Certainly, but I shouldn’t have to be. Somewhere, closer by than I could possibly know, there’s a boy just like my son who doesn’t have anything to eat. When my son comes to me and says, “Daddy, I’m hungry,” I can give him something. I always have something. Somewhere close by, there’s another boy telling his daddy that he’s hungry, and that daddy can’t do anything about it.

I shouldn’t have to be afraid of God. My heart should ache for that little boy, and that helpless parent who’s really tired of having to say no.

I want you to do me a favor. A small favor. I’m not asking you to be a hero. Go find your phone book (or go to a search engine) and find a local food bank. Call them up, and ask if they have an address that you can send a few dollars. People tend to forget about food banks in the summer time, and the poor and needy don’t just need food at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m sure they’d trade their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for less if they could and it would mean they would have more to eat in August.

If all you can send (or feel like sending) is two bucks, then send in two bucks. They can do something with two bucks. But it’s really hard to do anything with zero.

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One thought on “Is your neighbor hungry?

  • August 22, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Well said. Friends who volunteer at the local food bank tell me demand goes up in summer because the kids aren’t getting the free/reduced-price lunch at school.

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