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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Did Jesus really advocate Homelessness?

The Salvation Army

Besides the fact that Jesus was born homeless, at least for that one night; what is perhaps of greater interest is the fact that Jesus chose the way of homelessness during his three years of ministry. In Luke 9 Jesus responds to a man who says he will follow him wherever he goes: 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.'

But did Jesus really advocate homelessness? Did he really tell us to reject our families? That seems very irresponsible of him, does it not? Jesus does urge his followers to take no thought of their life; he tells a wealthy man to sell everything and give it to the poor and he makes some shocking demands of family disloyalty. But Jesus is talking about where people put their trust, where they find their security. Jesus was a man who had conquered fear, and did not need the security of an earthly home, because he knew exactly who he was and where his security lay. His home was the Kingdom of God, and the work of that Kingdom was first in his life.

The question we must ask (and it is not a comfortable one) is this: where is our heart and our home? That is, where have we stored up our treasures? Where does our security lie? Does it rest in our families, our material wealth, our society? It is not enough to simply follow a path that is deemed safe from the perspective of the world. We need to find our home elsewhere, to fix our eyes on things that are eternal, and we need to live that out in our daily walk.

Jesus’ identification with the poor and homeless is therefore a potential source of great strength for the homeless in our world today. But we who are his followers must be prepared to identify in the same way, to see ourselves as brothers and sisters of the destitute, to treat them not as objects of our pity, but as sharers in our love and community.

Jesus was homeless. It is too small a thing to say we follow Jesus but still cling tightly to our earthly security. Are we prepared to give up our 'homes'? Are we prepared to see Jesus in the face of the homeless today?

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Anonymous said...

In my opinion, He did so! No question about that. It is hard to try to understand the spread of Christianity in the Roman empire in the Apostles times; without thinking for a minute, that those 12 or 70 disciples according to the New Testament, were taking so many bad days, sleeping on the streets or in the forest, making all those journeys in what it was the Roman empire [good portion of Europe, mostly of what it was Asia Minor and good portions of North Africa ]mostly by walking; taking sometimes years literally speaking to make those journey sgoing from one place to another. It will be totally accurate to assume that those disciples went through very difficult times, from begging to survive, sleeping on the streets to dying while doing their evangelization journeys. At least, we must assume, by early Christian witnesses; that the understanding they got from Christ request to abandon home, money, properties and even family; was a very radical YES to homelessness and poverty. To even think for a moment otherwise, we will be betraying the testimony that the early Christians leave as a legacy to the world

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a powerful overview of the early disciples. Thank you for the insights, Anonymous!