The city in which I call home has a visible number of people who do not reside in regular residences (i.e. “homeless”). Also, at nearly every major intersection, there is someone with a cardboard sign asking for handouts (aka “panhandlers”).   These people are seen on a regular basis, especially during the fine summer weather that our city enjoys.

The other day while driving around town, I thought about the plight and the heart of these people. What cascade of bad circumstances and bad choices would cause someone to stand at a street intersection with a cardboard sign to beg for handouts? I am certain that in most cases there are numerous factors, and I am not so naïve to think the solution for these people is a simple one.

I believe that most of these people share a common reason for being homeless and/or begging at the street corners – a loss of dignity.

Dignity may be defined as “the state or quality of being worthy of honor and respect”. The concept of dignity is closely related to reverence (the feeling of awe, respect, and shame when these are the right feelings to have), which I previously wrote about.

Where do we get dignity? Is it a trait that is inherent or learned or acquired or granted?

I believe that we are each granted dignity and worth because of how God created us and because of what Christ bestowed upon us at the Cross. 

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.        I Peter 2:19

God has placed a special worthiness in all people. We are created in His image, with His stamp of approval. A baby is born with the radiance of God upon his or her countenance. It is easy to see the worthiness in a small child.

How did worthiness disappear in these adults who now must beg and sleep on a concrete sidewalk in the downtown center of our city? In a word: sin.  Sin attacks and destroys the inherent worthiness that God created in us as humans. We all have it. We all see the effects of sin: decay, pain, and death.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.               Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

However, through Christ our relationship with God is restored.  We are given new life.  We are elevated to a status of son and heir: God’s special possession!

We are granted dignity and worth because of the dignity and worth that is found in Jesus Christ.

Our role as followers of Christ is to grab hold of the dignity that is ours and treat others with that dignity.  We are called to point others towards Christ. We are to proclaim His message of hope and healing.

Our role is to restore dignity to the lost people of our city. It is to share the message of Christ’s reconciliation and to restore dignity and a sense of worth in each individual.  To is to provide God’s vision to men and women who have lost vision, a sense of purpose, and a sense of worthiness in their lives.

What do you think? Can dignity be restored to our land? Is a loss of dignity a primary cause for someone to be without a home and compelled to beg for employment?

About John Forrest