Someone once told me that when I wear my black poncho, I look like Darth Vader. Jokingly, I said that I crossed over to the dark side. Instead of helping the homeless, I lead the authorities to the homeless campsites in the woods, leading a wrecking crew to destroy the camps, as the Galactic Empire did with the AT-AT walkers, the four-legged transport and combat vehicles that resemble dinosaurs to stamp out the Rebel Alliance in two of the Star Wars movies.
Actually, the authorities in Bucks County, PA sent a backhoe to clear out homeless camps in the woods behind the Bucks County Technical School and across from The Bucks County Homeless Shelter back in April. It was a complete blitzkrieg; the county also forced the homeless from their camps at the nearby Veterans Memorial and by the District Court Building.
But I, or a guy who was falsely accused, did not rat them out. The woods were cleared out mainly because of complaints about drug use in the woods. Hypodermic needles were found. At least one druggie who overdosed had to be pulled out of the woods and taken to the ER. As far as the memorial and district court area, there were complaints about the homeless who camped there. Many of the problems were caused by druggies, some who had joined the local population and some who had come from some of the numerous recovery houses in the area. Some people who used the memorial sometimes kept their tents up during the day and on occasion their were drunken brawls and the police were called.
We all have a dark side. Christians are sinners saved by grace.
People destroy their lives by abusing drugs and alcohol and cause social problems. I went to the dark side after I turned from my faith and got messed up without the help of drugs or alcohol. As I told a Christian brother and sister recently, I did other bad things to make up for having problems via drugs and alcohol.
There are people I’d like to stamp out like a bug. People who cause problems in the homeless community, people who are judgemental about the homeless, thieves, liars, people who have slighted me, given me a raw deal, obnoxious drunks. Although it’s right to call out bad behavior and tell someone they are offending or hurting you, it is not up to me to judge. That’s God’s job.
I have to go to God and his Word to clean up my dark side. That’s a life long maintenance project.
In his Word, God teaches us to be more like Jesus. For example, the story of Jonah and the whale:
A long time ago, a man named Jonah found the people of Nineveh too much to take. When God told Jonah to go to this wicked town to minister to them, he blew God off and walked the other way.
As the story goes, Jonah gets aboard a ship and out of nowhere comes a storm. Jonah told the crew that his running away from the Lord caused this. They jettisoned him and Jonah got swallowed by a whale.
Inside the whale, Jonah got to think about his attitude and his disobedience to God. He repented and asked God to guide him. Jonah returned to Nineveh and the town repented and turned to God and from their evil ways.
Jonah, however, didn’t like God’s compassion for the wicked city.
Jonah had written off Nineveh as a lost cause and wanted them destroyed. God didn’t.
Like a sibling who couldn’t wait to see his brother or sister punished, Jonah sat waiting to see God open a can of whoopass on Nineveh.
God made a vine grow over Jonah to protect him from the hot sun but then he brought a worm to chew the vine, leaving him exposed to the blazing hot sun. Jonah grew faint and wanted to die. He was angry at God.
God gave Jonah the message similar to the opening of the science fiction series The Outer Limits: “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image; make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the outer limits.”
God showed Jonah that He was in control.
He compared this demonstration to the people of Nineveh and told Jonah: “You have been concerned about the vine, though you did not tend it of make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than 920,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
At a center for drug and alcohol abuse where I visited a friend, a counselor told the visitors that we have to set rules and borders for our loved ones with problems, but we should never condemn them. I’ve been setting rules and borders for a cancer patient I care for and try not to condemn her. Occasionally, when she does outrageous, destructive things, I slip and start to dismiss her. I’ve prayed to God for more patience with her.
God can take us out of our dark side.
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” -Psalm 40:2