Taking and Giving

First Congregational Church of Long Beach and Senior Pastor Jerald Stinson could face a fine of $1,000 a day for defying a prosecutor's order to prevent homeless people from sleeping on church property. Each night homeless people have been sleeping in makeshift camps on church property along the public sidewalk.

“The city’s threats are ludicrous,” Stinson said.

"We're not going to do what they want us to do,” he added. “Allowing these people to sleep on our property is, for us, a religious act."

Elsewhere, an antiques dealer in New York has sued four homeless people, seeking to keep them away from his store on a posh shopping street because, he says, they alienate customers and block window displays.

Store owner Karl Kemp also seeks $1 million from the four, named in the lawsuit as John Doe, Bob Doe, John Smith and Jane Doe.

In a nation as rich and abundant in America, homelessness remains a sad reality. And to make matters worse, not only are efforts to curb homelessness still in great lack, there are efforts such as those in Long Beach and New York to take away from those who already have very little of anything, if anything.

Beyond just a “religious act,” helping the needy is the humane thing to do, the right thing to do. Despite whatever inconvenience or discomfort there may be, the haves should give to the have-nots … or at the very least not take away.

And if anything, we are not owners of what we have, but rather managers of what has been given. Believers, especially, should remember this and ask themselves whether all that God’s given to them was given for them, or given to them to benefit others.

More than living out the American Dream, we all need to live for the Greater Dream.

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