Photo by Ev.

Sometimes, my devotions send me in the wrong direction.  If you read the Daily Bread devotional booklet, you might remember the one entitled “Jesus in Disguise” by James Banks.  (August 13, 2019). Mr. Banks told the story of his son participating in a “homeless simulation.”  He basically camped out on the city streets for a couple to days to help identify with homeless people. That sounds very noble, but I wasn’t so convinced and so my mind wandered.  The point of the devotional was to be like Jesus and care for people.  That I agree with, but the real issue we have is why are people homeless and does camping out with them really help you identify the problem? 

So I go to the word to see what does the Bible have to say about this subject?  Here are a couple of Biblical references to see God’s mind on this issue.

Deuteronomy 15:7, If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother.

Psalm 41:1, Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

And there are many others text we could reference here.  God expects His people to be compassionate.  He expects us to help those who due to circumstances beyond their control need a hand up.  God also says…

2 Thessalonians 3:10, For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

Proverbs 6:6, Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.

God expects those who can take care of themselves to do so and to have the wisdom to plan for the future.

God isn’t sending us mixed messages here.  He expects people to work hard and not depend on others for their existence.  He also expects us to help those who are helpless.  We see both sides expressed to us in the book of Galatians. 

Galatians 6:2, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:4-5, But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

It seems to me that the issue within modern Christianity is that we are not addressing the right problem. In Jesus day, people were poor or even homeless because of circumstances beyond their control.  A widow in the ancient cultures may well lose all. An orphan had no one to care for him and thus become a beggar.  Drought and famine could take the prosperous farmer to a state of homelessness, as could injury or disease. It seems to me that we need to realize that the poor and the homeless of Jesus’ day wasn’t exactly the same as in our modern culture.  Our problem is drugs and alcohol from which homelessness is a result. The vast majority of the homeless in our culture are homeless because of drugs. Yes, there are some who become homeless because of adverse circumstances not of their own doing, but that is a very, very small number.  If you watched the documentary “Seattle is Dying,” you can’t miss the point.  Drugs are the problem.  It seems to me as long as we continue to identify homelessness as the problem we are missing the real problem and so come up with the wrong solution.  You will not solve the homeless problem in America until you first deal with the drug issue; and you won’t solve the drug problem until you deal with the heart problem. 

So when someone “pretends” to be homeless in order to better identify with the homeless, I tend to be skeptical.  Until you know the power of the drugs, the overwhelming urge to stay high, and the bodies longing for the next fix, you aren’t really identifying with the homeless.  You may realize some of their hardship, but you really can’t identify.  If I was homeless and someone was out there pretending to be homeless, I’d resent it.  I’d feel like it was demeaning, besides the fact that it’s basically a lie!  I don’t want to question this young man’s heart or his motives.  I’m sure they were pure, but I feel they were misplaced. 

So what can we do?  Well, we can follow the Biblical mandate.  Take care of our own lives first so we can care for others.  Don’t covet and don’t horde.  Take care of your family, don’t expect the government or the church to do so.  Take care of those in the body that may need help if you can.  Take care of your neighbor. Help the helpless.  Realize that if we are talking drugs, alcohol or mental illness you can’t fix this.  Throwing money, food, clothing or even housing at the problem won’t fix this.  In fact, it may make it worse.  In these cases we have to deal with the core heart issues or mental issues that are beyond physical Band-Aids. 

4 thoughts on “Homeless!”

  1. Excellent post Pastor Jim. It is not too difficult in today’s culture to tell the whom is begging for drug money and whom perhaps is actually homeless, for no fault of their own. I remember many years ago when I worked in Vancouver, BC in one of the office buildings on the water front. Every day as I walked down Granville St. to my work I passed an elderly man sitting on the sidewalk with cup in hand. I opened my wallet and gave generously to him. I told one of my co-workers that hurt my heart to see an elderly person having to beg for money, for food. My co-worker informed me “do not give him any money as he is quite wealthy and makes more in one day, than you do in a month!” He informed me that everyone knew this to be true. It is difficult some days to judge in our own perception, and then remember that could be Jesus in disguise??? Do I help people anyways? Yes, when I can.

  2. AMEN! Well said! I have been saying this for a very long time. The issues of a free ride have to stop and taking care of the problem starts at our own feet. No one should take this onto the streets. Everyone needs to leave the street no protest, don’t add to the fire! Take your family home and start with your own. So many want to make their excuses someone else problem. I feel we even roll over and say that God would want us to take care of these things. God has given us all the resources and tools within our own soul for survival. It is our foundation in life. To pull it out in self discovery and know what you can do in life to make His light shine. The responsibility is everyone.
    So many foundations that we all have lived by, have now become gone and wobbly at best. Take care of your body and home. Pull together the Body of Christ around you and take care of one another.
    The responsibility that we have in our own life should not be rolled over onto someone else.
    We have five children and raised our children n the church and private school. Yet our youngest struggled. School didn’t come easy for him. Every avenue I went in to get him extra help in the system to allow him to be tested verbally instead of writing. As much as well all try sometimes you may not fit in, or feel than less deserving. So, many answers it could have been. But he became a heroin addict. It is not something that comes fast. It comes slow with teachers letting him down. I pleaded to them that if you told him to do anything, file papers and make copies. Show some attention…but it all fell to deaf ears. What is the saddest of all , is this was a Christian school! It broke our heart when we saw hm changing. A very loving young man gave up because he didn’t know how to fit in. Sometimes life isn’t pretty. We were forced to have to let him go. The constant calls for money. As parents you want to fix everything for your children. What happens when you can’t. We all learned valuable lessons in life. Sometimes you can try to do everything right, and it still becomes broken. One day he came home off the streets. I sat with him on the edge of his bed when I looked into is beautiful eyes I saw myself…when I was broken. At seventeen I was brutally raped by the head of or high school youth group at our church. I was terrified and ashamed and I never came forward. There were dark years for me and a abusive first marriage. I was a very scared twenty five year old with a two year old and I didn’t know how to live. I never got help for myself and I couldn’t teach my son the answers that I never found for myself. So at the moment sitting with him on the edge of the bed, we were both hurting. He went into a church recovery center and five hours away from here. I knew he could never live in the same town he used drugs. I told my husband what happened to me all those years ago. I told my Mom for the first time. She was the best Mom ever, who did everything right. A year later when I saw my son for the first time, we were alright. I learned that you never stop evolving in self. Problems that are on the streets are from a numerous of problems from dysfunction. Alcohol, drugs and self abuse. Even these stem from many reasons. Until you can reach down deep within your own soul and pull out that pain…you become part of that domino effect. That’s why everyone has their own responsibility laying at feet. No excuses. When Christ says take care of your home. That means your own body. Accepting your own responsibility. Everyone can have their own reason for why it all went wrong. But in the end…it is you making your own decisions. You have to get past the blame and own your walk in life. That is the foundation missing in our world today. We are praising the excuses. We become people lost without direction. Putting band-aid on it and running around fixing things will not take care of the problems. Because the problems are in our own homes, which is our own bodies. The body of the church…is exactly that. You and me and each and everyone. We all have a job to do. I have learned now to speak to others. Speaking however is a responsibility as well. I counseled adolescence years ago. I was good at my job, I thought. I look at myself today and I would be a lot more effective today. I felt guilty with our youngest whose name is Tim. After all we have been through I learned once your a Mom, you are one forever. Today I am still raising my children. Sometimes, they don’t want to hear it. But it’s okay, I still will bring on the honesty. I learned that I will never still my voice. No buried pain. Because it will all come out sooner or later. I no longer carry the shame of being raped. I don’t forgive him, for he robbed me of my life for so many years. I know as a Christian we are suppose to be forgiving. But, God please forgive me…I will leave it in your hands. So, today our son has a family of his own. He is an elder in his church. He leads the men’s Bible and prayer group every Wednesday at 6:00 a.m. He lives what he has been through. So I have obviously written to long. Sorry Pastor Jim! But, this subject is very close to my heart. I LOVE your messages. Keep doing them! Really you should compile them into a Book of your own? Thank you for listening!

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