Someone asked, “With all the issues and challenges in the world today, why make homelessness the first major initiative at our church?” It is a fair question. The main reason is that God cares deeply about homelessness because, well, Jesus himself was homeless.
You remember how Jesus was born: no room for him at the inn. Now, I’m sure if his family had been wealthy they would have found them a room. With enough money, the innkeeper would have been the one sleeping in the barn that night, but they didn’t have money. So …
Then, according to Matthew’s Gospel, when Herod tried to eliminate any competition by killing newborn baby boys, Mary and Joseph took Jesus and fled to Egypt. They didn’t have a home there, so they must have depended on others to take them in or they slept on the streets.
Later, Jesus began his ministry sleeping outside in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. That may have become his pattern because, in Matthew chapter 8, a young man comes up to Jesus and asks to follow him. With a frankness that was his hallmark, Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Human One has nowhere to lay his head.”
God has a heart for the homeless because Jesus was homeless.
I doubt many Christians today think of themselves as followers of a homeless person. You see this ministry to which we are called isn’t just one of many social challenges to which we might respond; rather, it is at the very heart of the identity of the one whose way we follow.
Would we treat the people we pass who are sleeping outside differently if we remember that Jesus was one of them? What might happen to us if we paused long enough to look and risk seeing Jesus, who said, “What you do to the least you do to me”?