Friday, June 18, 2010

Skid Row Experience

This is us on our way to "Skid Row" an infamous part of LA that is where thousands of people who are down and out because of poverty, mental illness, or addictions congregate. There are churches and community centers that provide free meals and programs on literally every street corner. I am not sure what came first, the people looking for help or the community centers.

Either way I have seen poverty, addiction, and mental illness many times in small doses but skid row was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The streets are filled with
people who are thin and worn down from addictions, there are people who when you look into their eyes you can instantly tell they are mentally ill or hopeless. I was extremely discouraged as I walked these streets and talked with the people who did not get to go home to a warm bed at night. These words echoed in my head:
This is not how God dreamed the world to be and The poor will always be with you

I was giving my self a history lesson and came to the conclusion that there has always been a class, race, or group of people that have been pushed to the side by greed and abused by the systems we humans create.I thought to myself: "If God does not want this to end than I want know part with God."But I have searched the scriptures (especially the prophets and the Gospels) enough to know that God hates poverty, mental illness, and addictions more than I could ever imagine.

I also refuse to blame anything of what I saw on a fictious Satan character that tempts and controls our world. I believe full heartedly that the broken world I saw this week was a product of my sinful heart. My sinful heart combined with your sinful heart, and all of the sinful hearts that have ever and currently walk this earth culminates into the evil of this world.

As failed, fallen, and sinful people we have created systems like capitalism, American democracy (that I assure you is not democracy), corporations, social security/welfare, or many of the other systems, that are nothing more than outlets for our sinful hearts.

Capitalism, (how America does capitalism) is wrong and God hates it. I can not be convinced otherwise. This week I got a tiny tiny tiny look into the hearts and eyes of the people's lives that are directly affected by the systems we create with our sinful hearts. Every single second of the day, from now until eternity, God looks into the eyes and hearts of those I only got a glimpse of and sees the hurt, brokenness, and hopelessness in ways that I will never be able to wrap my mind around.

Thank God for the power of the resurrection. Ephesians says that the same power that brought Jesus back from the dead is the same power that we now possess. I am convinced that the only place to find hope when we get down deep into the brokenness of this world is this power that we now are vehicles of to bring into this world.

Redemption, transformation, reconciliation, and Shalom in a way in which I can never fully imagine happens to each of us that let God into our hearts. And God is not just concerned with our souls but with the very world we live in that causes his children that he died for to suffer.
I would not have been transformed by God's grace if it was not for being broken into a million pieces as I stood in the shadow of the cross and was scorched by my sin. In the cracks of this broken world are the seeds for Jesus to do his work to redeem, transform, and reconcile this world.

Sin is the root of evil and the root of evil is the dehumanization of our fellow humans. If we looked into the hearts and eyes of people like God does to see their beauty, potential, hope, and capacities for love in the midst of their outward and inward brokenness we could not let the world exist in the way in which it does.

I pray a big prayer that God would do a work in every Christian trapped in complacency and comfort and break their hearts for how our God's heart breaks. Because if you do not want to face the realities of this world for what they are and dive into the brokenness than do not label yourself a Christian.

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