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Published February 26, 2014

Homeless Jesus Statue In North Carolina Reminds Us To Be Kind

Apparently a statue of a homeless man has people completely outraged here in North Carolina. I feel like I should just stop being shocked every time our state gets embarrassing media attention and awkward Twitter hashtags directed at us.

Before causing outrage, the statue first caused alarm, leading to a phone call to the local police station. You read that right. Someone called the cops on a statue. It must be an awfully frightening subject matter.

The statue is of Jesus.

The work of art, called “Homeless Jesus,” looks just like a bundled vagrant sleeping on a bench. In a fit of irony, many churches denied Homeless Jesus refuge, and refused to put him up on display in their lawns. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davidson, NC warmly accepted the sculpture, which has stirred up controversy ever since.

I read the original article on WCNC a few times, shared it on my Facebook like every real activist, and finally just accepted that I needed to vent here on Candid Slice.

Cindy Castano Swannack, quoted in the original article, is the one who called police. Interviewed on WCNC, she said the message was “inappropriate” and “wrong for the neighborhood.”

She further said, “Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help. We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy.”

While I understand where she’s coming from, I think Elaine Estes summed up the counterpoint nicely:

  • Jesus traveled around from place to place. He did not have a steady job. He slept around a fire, fished for food, and was dependent on the kindness of his devotees for food and lodging, not only for himself, but for his disciples! He knew exactly what it was like to be a vagrant!
RELATED: A Child’s Letter to a Homeless Person and Their Response.

I’m pretty sure the Bible says Jesus was a traveling, wandering, bearded, homeless hippie with messages of love and peace and flowers in his hair–but maybe that just helps me better relate to him. Either way, Jesus certainly lived many portions of his adult life as a man without a home. Having spent three months–paltry, compared to his three years–wandering the country and doing random acts of kindness, I understand the beauty in the scenario.

He was both needed and needy. He helped others, but he also needed their help. Shouldn’t kindness be a never ending circle like that?

Jesus told a parable that directly relates:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me … Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Homeless Jesus begs the question: What would you do for someone sleeping on that bench? Would you just call the cops on them?

Because whatever you’d do for that person, you’d do for Jesus as well.

Earl Barber, another Candid Slice author, commented:

  • I’ve said for many years that some people tend to put God in a box. That is, all that God had to say to us humans is contained in the Holy Bible (KJV, of course), and He’s right there, with all He has to say in that unopened book on my coffee table.
RELATED: Helping the Homeless: A Good Deed Makes A Full Return.

Whether or not you believe the Bible is the whole and eternal truth of God, I like to think God still talks to us. He talks to us through the people in our lives, through the situations we face and through how we respond to them.

Homeless Jesus Statue In North Carolina Reminds Us To Be Kind - 1
Pope Francis blessing a homeless Jesus statue

Maybe God is talking to you in the face of the homeless man or woman you pass every day. You don’t have to give them money. But you could give them a travel-sized care kit with hygiene products and a granola bar, or even a kind word or a simple smile. Or you could volunteer some hours at the local shelter. Or prison. Or nursing home. You could become the face of Jesus for someone else.

So maybe God is talking to you through this statue. What are you going to say back?

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  • heather

    Heather

  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. My resume. All my articles.

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