There is nothing wrong with garbage picking. It is a needed and sometimes rather lucrative endeavor. I had a friend who put three children through college by recycling stuff from the garbage. Going through the garbage for something to eat is a different thing. There are folks who eat what we throw away, we know that. There are people made homeless by disaster and there are the poor that Jesus said would always be with us.
The first corporate action by the congregation of Jerusalem of which we have record is that which concerned the proper care of the widows who were neglected in the daily ministrations (feedings). Acts 6: 1-3. In a similar way, one of the first recorded activities of the young congregation at Antioch in Syria is described in the words “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea; which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” Acts 11: 27 -30. The first corporate action of the congregations which had been established by Paul and Barnabas and further built up in their Christian relationships on later visits by the apostle and his companions had distinct social implications; for it had as its object the helping of the poor brethren in Judea. 1 Cor. 16: 12; 2 Cor. 8: 10-13; 9: 1-14 (cp. Acts 21: 17,18).
These corporate realities were brought to light on many occasions in World Relief and Human Care days and many congregations that were struggling were reminded of a world beyond their roofs and parking lots and fellowship halls to a world of fellow Christians suffering and in need around the world. President Harrisons’ reminder of the Theology of Mercy made huge impressions in our church and around the world. A decade has passed since that emphasis and in many ways we seem to be relapsing into a closed system of protecting what we have and concerns that there is a diminishing “pie”. There is an atmosphere of “Kingdom building” or at least the accusations being leveled in different areas. The same can be said about a new colonialism and concern about turf. It is a far cry from the young church and it’s exuberant look around discovering need and working to help.