One Picture, One Story
The building towered above him as he sat, defeated, on the sidewalk. He looked at its foreboding, wooden doors as they mocked his weak, malnourished body. Never once did it cross his mind to go inside, he was not a good enough man for that. At least that was what the fortress-like walls seemed to tell him. He wanted to move along, but his twisted ankle and empty stomach left him with little strength to carry on. So he sat, defeated, on the sidewalk being mocked by wooden doors and judged by the fortress-like walls. People walked in and people walked out, all of whom were well dressed and well fed. They scolded him with their eyes as they strode quickly by, trying not to trip over his frail body. Their pocket books were open, but only to the point of legalism and tithe. The poor man was not in their financial plans and he didn’t necessarily expect to be. He shaded his eyes from the bright sun, now showing itself from the other side of the sky-reaching towers where the perfectly tuned bells would ring out. There was a loud creak from the mocking doors and out came a lavishly dressed priest. After allowing his eyes to adjust to the afternoon sun, he saw the poor man sitting on the sidewalk and began descending the grand staircase that draped down from the even grander entrance. The poor man thought he might at least help him to his feet or maybe give him some food. He smiled at the priest as he approached.
“Get away from here!” The priest was red with anger as he came near, “You are making my congregation uncomfortable! Go away and find a job!”
“But sir, I have hurt my ankle and I have no strength because I haven’t eaten in days. Can you help me up so I can try to leave?”
The priest gawked at the suggestion that he should help, “Go away!” The priest turned and ran up the stairs and disappeared into the vast doorway.
The man tried with all his might to stand, but couldn’t. He stared up at the grandeur that signified supposed grace and forgiveness. People told him that in those walls dwelled a God of love who could make him whole, but all he saw was judgement and hoarded wealth. He wanted to get away from the judgemental walls and mocking doors as fast as he could, but no one would help him to his feet. So he sat there, on the sidewalk being mocked by the doors and judged by the walls.
He guessed he sat there for 2 or 3 hours before people began streaming out of the grand entrance and into the sun-filled street. The scolding eyes were back and as angry as ever, weary from the long-winded judgement from the pulpit. He asked one such person if he would be as kind as to help him to his feet, but was met with indifference and annoyance. He sat there, defeated. Not one person stopped to help, not one person stopped to care. Where was this healing, loving God on this sunny afternoon? Maybe he doesn’t leave the fortress that was built or maybe he can’t. The man didn’t know and no longer cared as he sat, defeated, in the judgemental shadow of the stone fortress. He died there that day and nobody noticed until the priest came out to scold him again, in his flashy clothes and well-fed body. He died there that day, defeated, by the mocking doors and judging walls.