(I am so honored and thrilled to have my dear friend, Jessica, contributing to my little blog this week. She is a beautiful and passionate visionary who loves Jesus. I am humbled and challenged by her words. I hope they find a home in your heart, as well.)
I have a friend. Well, truth be told, we were friends in college. More like acquaintances. Ok so there’s this person on Facebook to whose thoughts I am privy on a somewhat daily basis. Ah, modern life.
By all appearances (this is a strictly Facebook relationship, remember?), our lives could not be more different. He appears to be a single man with an absorbing career and in a long term relationship with some level of identification with the letters LGBT; I am a married straight woman and currently stay home with our four month old. He would probably call himself formerly Christian, the Captain of his soul; I would call myself a follower of Jesus and, if pressed, a charismatic evangelical Christian. He posts to social media frequently, raging against all manner of hypocrisy, religion, conservative politics, and haters of all shapes; I created a Twitter account just this week and still don’t know how I feel about posting my thoughts for people to read. All 7 of my followers. Not sure why I give it that much thought. Anyway. And yet this real-person-pretend-friend and I were asking the same question today.
“Why are there so many homeless people?”
He raged on about super wealthy pastors and political conservatives who block welfare legislation. He mocked pro-life activists, mission trips, religious programs and buildings, and international adoption. His venom was unruly, his arguments ad hominem, and his logic, quite frankly, illogical. His vague conclusion was that Christians are the reason there are so many homeless people. And strangely enough, for all our differences, I clicked that little thumbs up.
Christians most certainly are the reason there are so many homeless people.
I should disclose a little more about myself before I continue. It’s February here in central Texas. I currently sit at Starbucks, and I drove here in my car. My car with heat. From my house with heat. From my heated house that yet is somehow considered uncomfortable by many, not so much for the heat but for the residents. My husband and I have six young adult women who live with us. Yes, six. Most Christians we tell shake their heads in wonder and offer praise that sounds more like condolence.
“Oh. Wow.” The end.
“Poor Jay. Tell him to call me if he needs some guy time.”
“Oh, I could never do that,” other Christians say. “That’s amazing.”
Yes, six women live with us, but they are all beautiful, to be honest. They shower regularly, and they smell nice. They buy their own groceries. Not one of them has ever stolen from us, though we were all strangers to each other when they moved in. The women who live with us are easy to live with. They are quirky in all their own ways, but they all have some level of the social tact that develops from having continual, positive interactions with other humans. They add value to our home life. It is not amazing that we share our home. It is easy. Caring for these women in this season is a joy and literally hilarious most of the time. We are not heroes.
Caring for homeless people is hard. Life has killed the dream they dreamed, and with that level of loss comes a depth of pain and disappointment most of us will never know. They’re wounded and without the resources the housed and less vulnerable would use to rebound from life’s trauma, let alone everyday scrapes and bruises. They don’t have bandaids. They are desperate and distrustful. Wouldn’t you be if every resource you knew you could rely on numbered exactly zero? They have more needs than resources for contribution. Not to mention they expect rejection and often act in ways that ensure the fulfillment of that expectation. Not to mention they smell bad. (We gave a homeless man a ride once – just a simple ride so he didn’t have to walk for a minute because it’s all we had time for that day on our way to our very important missions meeting, ahem – and my car smelled like urine for days.)
The homeless are beautiful people, individuals each with their own storyline and uniquely necessary hearts, but in their current state, they are shells – externally human but internally carrying the scars of being beaten, raped, robbed, accused, and scorned, rejected, despised by fellow men. Sounds like someone else I know. (Except maybe raped. But then it says he carried all our sin and shame. So put that in your theology and tell me how it works out.) The first followers of Jesus were dirty, passionate, made a few socially questionable decisions, and changed the world. Why, then, do so many of us now cling to a beautiful, inoculated, homogenous suburban religion, fighting desperately to maintain a status quo that protects our precious freedom to keep things the way they are? When did sharing your home with nice-smelling, kind, Jesus-loving young women become astonishing and so far outside the normal Christian experience? It seems laughable to ask next why Christians don’t house and clean and care for the homeless. (Including us, I might add, the ones with the beautiful live-in babysitters. Including us.)
Facebook friend, you’re right. We Christians are the problem. If a few more than a few more of us with that little Christ label would embrace the discipleship of a lost life, a few more of the lonely and homeless would be set in families. Heaven help us.