So I was sitting in my living room the other night, enjoying a hot drink and watching my children play on the floor while my wife was reading a book, when I heard a knock on the door.
I rose to answer the door, even though it is unusual to have visitors unannounced late in the evening. I opened the door and displayed before my eyes and filling up the entire front yard was a group of people looking rather tired and hungry. Probably 150-200 people met my gaze with silent pleading eyes. The young man that had knocked upon the door gave this account of himself:
“Please sir, we have been chased out of our homes by evil criminals on the other side of town, and are now seeking refuge from the cold and the violence of the world. We are struggling to find food and shelter and we have been turned out from many of our relatives’ homes. We do not know why our extended families would not accept us. Could we perhaps stay with you for a short time until we are able to re-settle our families in some other safer part of the city? We promise to be helpful and not drain your resources or cause a great disturbance to your family. You have a reputation in our city for helping those that are less fortunate and needy, and I know you have accepted others in our situation before. Surly we are also deserving of your assistance. Won’t you let us in?”
Upon hearing this eloquent appeal, my heart was inclined to help these poor souls. How awful to be cast out of your home, driven by evil men to wander the streets in search of food and shelter. Surly the Christian thing to do, surly what Jesus would have me do, would be to bestow what kindness and assistance was in my power to help these needy people.
I was about to open the door widely and invite all of them in, and then turn to my wife and ask her to assist me as we would then work feverishly to prepare food for 200+ people, when I noticed across the street my neighbor’s home. He also had a group of people in his front yard.
In fact it became quickly evident that he had already received a group of about 100 people into his home, welcoming them with open arms and a warm hearth. Everyone in his yard looked like they had come from approximately the same area of the city as the people now requesting admittance into my domicile. I do not know how long my neighbor had been hosting them in his home before I answered the door, but it appeared to be at least long enough for his family to serve a loaf of bread and some water to each person. My neighbor was also a warm-hearted and genuine Christian.
As I gazed upon his home, now a beacon of hope for the needy masses, I noticed on the side of his drive way a growing commotion. A struggle was taking place. Four or five young men were attacking a poor young boy, just to the left of my neighbors new SUV. Blow after blow reigned down upon the poor child, as he did his best to shield himself from the attack. I was horrified to see such a display of cruelty, and the shock of seeing five grown men ganging up on a boy of ten or twelve had me dumbfounded. The men were yelling some sort of religious phrases I couldn’t understand.
Then I saw the boy’s face, and realized it was my neighbor’s own son! A boy my own children were used to playing with on a regular basis. As the grim truth of it settled into my disbelieving mind, I noticed a body laying in the grass next to the house, further behind the current struggling youth. With horrified shock and disbelief it became clear to me that it was the wife of my friend, my neighbor, who was currently serving doughnuts and coffee to the needy people in his home. He obviously had no idea what was happening to his family, but the reality was all too clear to me. It was evident that his wife had been murdered, and his son was soon to follow.
As I considered the rest of his children and where they might be, I noticed again the pleading faces in my yard looking to see my response to their request. I now saw that for every woman in the crowd, there were 3 or 4 young men. Not boys but grown men, healthy and strong, very much like the men who were now finishing off the attack upon my neighbors son.
As I considered the request of all these people, and the situation now upon my door step, I realized…I had no way of knowing if these people were telling the truth. I could not actually check with the police to find out if these people, mostly young healthy men, were driven from their homes or if they left of their own accord. (The police department had very little activity in their part of town.) I had no way of knowing if they were telling the truth about their situation, or if they were simply trying to find an access point into my home to take advantage of my wife and children. How many of these people were also criminals?
It then occurred to me to wonder why these able bodied and strong young men did not stand and fight against the invading criminals that were supposed to have driven them from their homes. Also why had they apparently left most of their mothers, sisters, wives if they had them, and children to deal with those criminals on their own? Why had these young men not brought their loved ones with them if it was so dangerous? And why were their own relatives not receiving them or helping them?
The questions began to mount, and no clear or verifiable answer was forthcoming. Now, though my understanding of the Scriptures inclined my heart to desire to help them, I also remembered that the Bible teaches I have a responsibility to care for the needs of my family above those of others. I realized that to allow a great danger into my home (and this group of people was looking more and more dangerous considering the incident across the street) was one of the most unloving and unchristian things I could do to my family.
With the mounting evidence before me, and my inability to insure the safety of my wife and children, I instructed the people in my front yard to go down the street to the local park where I would come presently with food, water, and the Gospel. (Along with proper security.) I was certainly willing to help, but not until I could be sure they would not treat my own family as some in their group had treated my neighbor’s family. Perhaps a little introspection among their group would help them find assistance. Perhaps their relatives would be more inclined to help them if they would kick out the criminals in their midst.
Moral of the story: Let’s practice Biblical love with Biblical priorities, and don’t believe everything you hear.