Pay the Toll

I take 6 one dollar bills on my daily walks downtown. Why 6? No clue.  I use them to pay the toll for passing through the living rooms of the homeless.  I try to give to the old and the women, I know they have it worse on the streets, but I’m not sure I have the right to pick and choose.  In Luke 6:30, Jesus says, “Give to everyone who asks of you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”  That command is from his sermon on the mount, right there in the middle of all the other embarrassingly foolish things that Jesus wants us to do.

“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”  “..because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”  “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other as well.  If someone takes your coat, don’t stop him from taking your shirt as well.”  

Turning the other cheek makes no sense at all, I’m told there’s a cultural war on Christianity. I’m told it is time to fight back.  It’s ridiculous to think that it will be the meek, not the savvy, outspoken and effective, who will inherit the earth.  This is the true foolishness of following Jesus and why so few of us actually do.

I know full well where the bulk of my tolls go.  Sandra is the hardest to give to because she always waits too long to go look for money, until she is frantic and shaking for her drug.  She never ever says, “thank you” and she always immediately asks if I have more money.  I wish I could be like my friend, Ivan.  We were walking together once when a man asked us for money.  Ivan stopped and smiled, gave him a big hug, looked him right in the eyes and said, “I can’t help you feed your addiction, my brother. I know where you’re at. I know what it’s like, but I love you, and I just can’t do it. Okay?” The man smiled sadly and said, “Yeah, that’s okay.”  He seemed to know beyond any doubt that Ivan had earned the right to say that to him,  in love, without a molecule of judgment attached.  

My heart is not there yet.  Every time I try to pick and choose who’s going to use my dollar for food or shelter and who’s going to use it to get high, I can feel myself judging.  So, I don’t.  I just pay the toll; like the fool I’m asked to be, 6 dollars at a time.