Two roads diverged in a wood, and I/I took the one less traveled by/And that has made all the difference–Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”
Life is sometimes filled with tough decisions to make. Where even when you choose what is right, somehow you still don’t feel good about it.
One Sunday, church members found a homeless woman encamped right outside church doors. Many of us know her. She’s a bit delusional at times. A bit of a nuisance. But never a danger.
When I asked her to move her belongings, I asked her to move her belongings. But she didn’t want to miss church. Not wanting to deny her from God, I invited her to stay.
I’m told that she later took her belongings off the property without much fuss. But I got a phone call early the next morning from the preschool director. The woman returned with her belongings. But when asked to leave, she grew defiant and the police was called.
A Difficult Decision Complicated by Justin Terrible Choices
I wanted to have a formal no-trespass request made in writing. But when I explained the situation to the officer, he gave me a couple cold facts about the situation.
Yes, I could have the no-trespass request made, but it didn’t carry much weight in practice. A piece of paper would not prevent her from returning. Based on his experience in dealing with the homeless, he gave me two decisions to make:
- Do I want the woman arrested for trespassing? He felt this carried much more weight in deterring the woman from returning, and
- Do I want the woman banned from the premises? Based on her state of mind, the officer believed that permitting her to be on the property some of the time, but not others, would be confusing to her.
I was disgusted by the choices I had to choose from. This framing of the situation portrayed the homeless woman more as a criminal than a person in need. Yes, as vicar, I’m responsible for the care and use of church property. But what about the needs of the homeless woman?
For those facing a similar dilemma, our reading from Ephesians (Ephesians 4:1-16) may prove enlightening. To be the Church that Christ intended, the book of Ephesians calls for us:
“To live a life worthy of the calling you have received. To be completely humble and gentle; to be patient, bearing with one another in love. To make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Our reading fleshes this out. It provides you a guide to help you maneuver through life as a Christian.
Speaking on faith, Paul describes the experience perfectly: we are prisoners of the Lord. Christ compels you to do what is right in God’s eyes. Your faith gives us only one path to follow, the one Christ would travel.
In short, you are to be imitators of Christ in all seasons. You are to do as Christ would do in your situation. Even if you don’t feel like it or it’s not convenient.