Dirty smelly poor people

I've just started to read "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. I'm not far into it, but it doesn't take long to tell that this is one of those books thats stretches you in ways you're uncomfortable with (good but uncomfortable). It challenges you to get out amongst the nitty gritty. To hold their hands and love them.

Thats hard.

I figure that getting used to working with the poor, the alcoholic, and the smelly, is kind of like getting used to cold water. At first its pretty uncomfortable. Easing in slowly will eventually get you submerged, but its a painful process. And weather you jump in head first all at once, or move along slowly. At some point you have to be in over your head and moving around pretty hard if you ever want to get used to the way it feels and find yourself comfortable.

Also once you're in, if you sit around for a while... you'll get cold and uncomfortable again.

I've been easing myself in slowly... its not been easy. I've been in the water before, but gotten out... but I'm pleased that since I've gotten back in (and I'm still in only up to my knees), I've been active in that little bit and the water is starting to feel warmer and warmer and its almost comfortable again.

I shake the guy's hand in my neighborhood who was hired to go through our trash cans and sort what he finds. But he's a sweet guy, and when he takes his hand out of the trash can to say hello and shake my hand, I've got to step up.

My mentally handicapped friend who sits on the steps a couple of blocks from my house and tries to pinch me when he holds my hands, is pretty gross. His hands are dirty, he drools and screams when he sees me. But the Lord loves these guys like he does me. And as I get dirtier and dirtier I'm getting used to the mud.
When you're running to get out of the rain, you eventually slow down, accept that you're soaked, and then you're able to enjoy the downpour. Thats what this feels like.

I'm reminded of James 2, how we can show favoritism to the rich over the poor. Also our faith needs to be matched with works. Typically when I think of works, I think of social service, but it also means prayer. Keep your works up with your faith. Otherwise you become the guy on the shore who has forgotten how to swim. And when God throws you in the deep end, its hard to get used the water when you've forgotten how to swim.

May God give us the grace to dive in and be willing to get wet.