Did you see this?

It seems that there is a real life Robin Hood roaming the streets of Jackson, Mississippi. He robs from the city to give back to the citizens. Well, he doesn’t say it’s “robbing”, per se. He takes city asphalt and goes around town repairing potholes that the city has been slow to repair. Now the authorities are trying to decide if there has been a criminal act involved.

I’m not going to judge his actions as righteous or villainous, but I do think that his behavior illustrates a biblical point:

People are supposed to be proactive in helping others.

Seems really simple, really. God has called us to be a force of good in the world. Not just hypothetical good. Not just pleasant people to be around. God has called us to proactively help others with whom we come into contact. It seems that most of the western world (even atheists, pagans, and all other religions combined) is familiar with the “Golden Rule.” Even people who do not know the origin of the rule can still recite it (in essence, at any rate).

The writers of the New Testament continued the theme of serving the needs of humanity. James writes that it’s completely worthless to see someone in need and merely say, “Go in peace, be warm and filled,” but never lift a finger to help meet their needs. John’s first letter makes a similar point that love requires more than words – love must be backed by action.

It is much too easy to tell people that we care about them without any amount of follow-through. Sometimes our culture seems to promote this. We ask each other how things are going without any real concern for the answer to come. What would we do if people answered, “I’m really struggling today because I’m dealing with….” Would we step up and see how we could bring assistance? Or would we feel awkward and uncomfortable with the idea that the other has broached conversational etiquette by demanding that we care? It is a trap that many of us – even the best intentioned – fall into from time to time. So this isn’t about saying, “Shame on us!” It’s really about saying, “See how far we’ve come from existing in communities of people who stick up for each other, care for each other, and seek the physical well-being and wholeness of our brother and sister.”

So here’s a challenge: the next time you ask someone how they are doing pause and REALLY listen to the answer. If they don’t want to become vulnerable that’s okay – don’t push it. But if people actually do open up to you and you see the needs of others don’t feel awkward. Ask yourself how you can be a resource to bring relief to a troubled person.

So what about our modern day Robin Hood? Who knows. He might be prosecuted. He might be given a warning not to do it again. Whatever the outcome of his particular case I commend people who step up, take initiative, and try to solve problems rather than merely bemoan the troubles.

Step up. Be a problem solver. Show your love and care for humanity by working to make things better. You’ll never know how you might bless someone else.

 

How about you? Have you been the recipient of a Robin Hood or a caring person? Care to share about it?