The rules say you cannot help the homeless man.
One of the things I’ve always loved about Jesus’ ministry is how he dealt with rules. Jesus was not exactly the “rebellious, rule-breaker” many hip pastors and youth ministers lift him up to be. Jesus actually lived according to the laws of God celebrating the holy days and honoring the Sabbath.
But Jesus never let the rules get in the way of helping someone or loving someone. Jesus knew the meaning behind the rules. He knew the law was put in place to protect and convict all of us. The law of God was there so that when we were confronted with a difficult decision, we would be protected when needed and we would assist when called upon. Through the ages, like any good set of rules, they (the rules) became more important than the purpose behind them being rules in first place.
This is why Jesus healed on the Sabbath. This is why Jesus fed his disciples on the Sabbath. This is why Jesus would eat with those the rules said to not eat with. When we forget why the rules are in place, the rules lose meaning. The meaningless rules become a heavy burden on your back for reasons we have long forgotten.
I am glad Jesus “fulfilled” the law and reminded us of the purpose behind the rules. I often use the phrase I learned from my grandmother, “we need to get the ox out of the ditch” when reminding myself and others that we must sometime go against the “rule” for a greater good. The phrase comes from Luke 14:5 when Jesus asks, “which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit and not immediately pull it out on Sabbath day?”
Antoine Turner just committed to Boise State to play football this fall. His story is pretty amazing. His mother died when he was very young. He has been transient and homeless most of his life. He is homeless now…and he will be a scholarship athlete at Boise State. But until he actually registers for classes, he has nowhere to lay his head. He talks about not even owning a blanket.
When the Boise State fans and alumni heard about Antoine, they responded with overwhelming generosity! That is no surprise. People want to help. There is only one problem…the NCAA has rules against furnishing any kind of aid at all to student athletes. Boise State could face sanctions if anyone helped Antoine. And so, Boise State is telling everyone NOT to help their newest, homeless football player.
There is a part of me that almost wants to laugh at the lunacy, but we are talking about a young man who is homeless and who has been homeless most of his life. That is no laughing matter.
Antoine will have housing and three square meals soon. Hopefully, he will have a bright future with an education from Boise State! In the meantime, what do we make of all of this?
This is an “ox in the ditch” situation. I hope and pray the NCAA and Boise State will step up immediately and provide shelter and safety for Antoine Turner. This is definitely a case of rules getting in way.
*****As of 1:30 EST, May 14, 2014, the NCAA gave approval to Boise State to provide immediate assistance to Antoine Turner. The news came out as I was writing this blog post! Thanks be to God!