Wednesday, October 10, 2012


     I have a number of acquaintances who are or have been homeless.  I also have a couple of friends who have been homeless for a time in their lives.  They have shared their experiences, or at least some of their experiences.

     The concept of being homeless is very disconcerting to me.  But my friends have shared that it can be survived.  One of my two friends actually chose to be homeless.  He wanted to be free to roam wherever he chose without the bonds of a home to tie him to a certain locale.  He wanted to be free to wander and to explore the country.  He had no property tax to pay.  He had no mortgage looming over his head.  He had no lawn to demand being mowed and no shrubs or trees to demand being pruned and trimmed and watered and weeded.  Sometimes he even had no automobile.

     My other friend was forced into homelessness.  Various circumstances came upon him that left him destitute.  He lived in the streets, seeking food and shelter where he could find it.  And this way of living has cost him terribly.  It has robbed him of his physical health.  Harsh winters and poor nutrition and inadequate attention to health concerns have injured him considerably.  These conditions were inflicted upon him by others.  His church body betrayed him.  Others to whom he was devoted betrayed and abandoned him and did injury to him.  His closest family all died.  The government also worked against him, especially when he was homeless.  The police issued a multitude of citations against him for paying his fare to ride the subway, and then staying onboard all night to keep from freezing.  Apparently, homeless people are not allowed to use the subway for survival, as their presence makes others uncomfortable.

     One friend chose homelessness as a lifestyle during various times of his life.  Another friend endured being pressed into a homeless condition and suffered for it and continues to suffer the effects.  But neither friend ever discounted the value of having a home.  Even though one sought a temporary freedom, and sometimes still does, through cutting the ties to a particular location to call home, the longing for what home really is remains strong.

     I have noticed that this is especially true for those who are homeless from a spiritual perspective.  Many people choose to seek an imagined freedom through cutting all ties to a religious and spiritual heritage or home.  Others find themselves pressed out and unable to find a place to call home.  In both cases the people suffer consequences of their homelessness.

     Sadly, very, very few people really ever discover the true home that God has provided for His children.  Most people have no true perception of what this home is.  They hear about it.  They read about it in the Scriptures.  They observe others who claim to belong to it.  Even among those claiming to belong to this spiritual home, very few are truly members of God’s household.  Rather, most fabricate their own versions of what they think God’s house should be and label it as His.  But the safety and security and blessings of His house are not present because it is only a facsimile of His house.  Often the facsimile is not even very close to resembling His house.  Other times it is more convincing with many of the features of His house closely mimicked, but nevertheless still not the real place of the dwelling of His name.

     The Lord Jesus explained this to the Pharisee who came to Him as John records in chapter three.

     There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

     Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

     Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

     Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
  (John 3:1-12)

     The Lord Jesus explains that unless one has been born into this household through the spiritual rebirth by which one is made to be a member of this household, one cannot even recognize it, let alone enter into it.  He first explains that this rebirth is from above.  It is not something that one does for oneself or even chooses for oneself, but it is worked from above, by the Father which is in heaven.

     Yet He furthermore explains that this miracle from heaven is worked on earth through the combination of the earthly life giving and cleansing substance of water along with the heavenly life giving and cleansing Spirit.  When the water is applied by one who is a member of this household, according to the manner ordained by the Lord, that is, in connection with His name of life and forgiveness and blessing in His eternal Communion, then it has the power to effect that which He promises.  It opens the eyes and ears and hearts of those born spiritually blind and deaf and lifeless to His kingdom.  Those who were dead are raised to the new life of His grace, mercy, and peace.  These children born of the Spirit now recognize the Kingdom of God on earth and rejoice in having been made to be members of it with all of that belongs to the coheirs of Jesus.

     The truly sad state of matters in which the world exists is that there are so many facsimiles of God’s house that hardly anyone ever encounters the real house of God so as to be able to receive the rebirth from above that God works through His true household of faith.  Thus instead there exists a multitude of diverse churches and church bodies, some of which bear about as much resemblance to the household of God as a mud ball resembles a precious jewel, and others bear a closer resemblance so that people imagine that they partake of God’s promises when all that they really receive are corrupted fragments.

     Yet still God shows Himself faithful.  He does nevertheless preserve His little Church on earth.  He does still work the miraculous rebirth from death to life through Baptism and He does still nourish and protect and nurture His beloved children through the Holy Supper.  Those who belong to Him know the true freedom of being closely bound to Him and to the brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus.  They know the freedom of being able to say

     “Yes!  I have a true home.  I am a member of God’s holy family both now and forevermore.  I share in the inheritance that Jesus purchased for all who through faith receive God’s saving and restoring grace.  I know who my Father is and I rejoice in His never-ending and limitless love.  I have a home and I sit at the Table and eat the bread of heaven and drink of the life of the blood.”

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1 comment:

Gary Cepek said...


Thank you for the analogy which blesses in this post, that the precising of the use of pistis in Hebrews in the previous post. The spirit is edified as faith is given growth.

Gary Cepek