Something about being homeless has always intrigued me. If you’ve ever spent time around me, chances are that the homelessness or poverty has probably come up at some point in a conversation. I also spend a good chunk of time volunteering at a local ministry known as The LOT Project which feeds and clothes “the least of these.” Homelessness and poverty are definitely not a new thing for me, but I have always interacted with them for only a few hours at a time and always within the walls of a ministry.
My experience with homelessness could be best described as limited and one dimensional. I could talk talk to you all day about my opinions on the matter but I could never begin to wrap words around the thoughts and emotions that actually flow through the mind of one who has no home, no income, and no stability.
So I decided to spend my weekend on the street. Brilliant idea, right?
Indeed it was. New friends, free meals, a cold shower in the homeless shelter, a sleepless night on a mattress pad covered with disenchanting brown stains, intentional conversations galore, encouraging words, and watching one of my new homeless buddies meet the Lord all made for an interesting weekend!
One of my friends quoted Jesus in Luke 9:58 where he said: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” This stuck with me. These guys can really relate to the sacrifices Jesus made for us. Him and his disciples had no guarantee that they would have a place to stay, a meal to eat or a friends to welcome them.
This weekend has forced me to peer into scriptures as if it were a mirror and ask myself this; Would I actually have been one of the few who dropped everything they knew and ran after a dirty homeless dude named Jesus?
Because I feel like very few of us would be able to make that sacrifice.
We might go to one of His weekend conferences… if it fit our schedule… maybe…
But how many of us would be reckless enough to quit our jobs, sell our possessions and follow a homeless teacher as he wondered the countryside proclaiming the coming of a kingdom far greater?
Well…uh… that was then… and we are here now… uh… Jesus isn’t actually wondering the streets. So… whew! I don’t have to make that sacrifice! What a relief!
Well… actually… In Matthew 25:35-40 Jesus drops this on us.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Jesus is wondering the streets every day.
And when most of us see Him, we drop your eyes and try to act like we didn’t notice him. He smells a little different, talks a little less coherently, and He may be struggling with a few more addictions than we first imagined, but the reward we receive for loving Him is just as great as the one for serving Jesus.
It isn’t easy.
It isn’t safe or comfortable.
And it doesn’t make any sense to the rest of the world.
But it is what Jesus asked us to do.