Who wants to be homeless like Jesus? I’m going out on a limb here to contend that most people probably do not have it as a goal or posted on their vision boards.
And I have not come across any executive or life coaches boasting about how they guide their clients to achieve homelessness.
With this being said, during days seventy-one through seventy-seven of my year-long Bible hiatus, my husband and I moved into our new home, and I thought about how Jesus was content without one.
In this post I reflect on shelter, contentment, and the limits of our spiritual beliefs.
Contentment Without Shelter
Years ago, my husband pointed out that Jesus said to be content with food and clothing, leaving shelter out of his declaration. I had projected my understanding of basic physical needs, consisting of food, clothing, and shelter, onto the scripture.
Throughout his ministry, the nomadic Jesus did not retreat to a dwelling he owned. He explained that, unlike the birds and foxes, he did not have a place to lay his head.
Suffice it to say, Jesus did not live in a gated community, where every Sunday, he walked down the street to pastor a megachurch in Jerusalem.
So far, throughout my life, I have felt thankful to have a roof over my head. The first home I lived in had no indoor plumbing (and technically, no outdoor plumbing).
I feel grateful for my experience because it is part of my story and my life. Since then, I have lived with a great appreciation for indoor plumbing.
Whenever I feel like I am dipping my toes or submerging my entire body into the waters of complaining, taking a moment to evaluate what I am taking for granted puts things in perspective.
Let me level with you. I struggle with the idea of contentment with only food and clothing because I believe housing is a basic need-and not just any old housing, either.
As a result of the conflict between my perspective and Biblical interpretation, I have grown to realize that Jesus did not expect people to go homeless in order to please God.
Abundance, Positivity, and Homelessness
I have found that different teachings on positivity and abundance leave little to no room for understanding events that occur beyond people’s control. For example, I argue that these limited frameworks do not fully explain phenomena like homelessness and hunger.
As a result, different followers of such teachings unknowingly look down on people who do not have what they consider lives of abundance or success.
I am fortunate that I have not experienced homelessness, for it can happen to anyone.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe we have the power to create our realities, and I believe in the power of ambition and hard work.
Also, I believe that life has a way of troubling our neat and tidy reasoning and spirituality.
If folks believe that they are Gawd of the universe and can law of attract, detract, subtract, react, name and claim every single result in their lives, then they are sorely misguided.
Who are we to think that all homelessness and hunger is a direct result of a need for abundance thinking?
Do we dare say to the hungry child, “Sorry, Kid, you have no home and food because you have a poverty mindset?”
Chiefly, there are a range of factors that contribute to homelessness from surviving domestic violence to access to affordable housing to racial inequalities.
I appreciate a spiritual framework that acknowledges these factors.
Contentment and Compassion
Contentment is something we do for ourselves. Compassion, on the other hand, is something we give to ourselves and others.
When you have compassion, you refrain from demanding people to be content, and you show mercy.
If you think that sheer might and effort are the only things that have prevented you from homelessness or hunger, I perceive that you likely lack compassion in some way, for you fail to recognize both micro and macro influences impacting the world.
In reality, you might have a poverty mindset because you live in lack-lack depth of vision to truly behold the goodness in your life.
Furthermore, contentment helps us to live in abundance regardless of external influences. Not only does it fly in the face of consumerism, but also, if we think it requires abandoning all ambitions, contentment can scare us.
So, how many possessions do you think you need to really enjoy life?
If you feel thrilled to have food and clothing, imagine how much more pleasure you would experience in anything beyond it. Anything you gain beyond these two things would taste tremendously sweeter.
Everything else would seem like super bonuses.
That’s the unique power of contentment.
This Christ message of contentment has significance in an age where people feel like they need to be and do more in order to be happy.
The challenge in our ever globally flattening world, where you can access people showcasing their lavish lifestyles with a tap, click or swipe via digital technology, is to foster joy from within and without comparison.
Contentment helps us appreciate what we have and recognize that our true identities are not tied to them.
Still, I do not want myself or anyone to be homeless like Jesus.
Three Points of Wisdom from Days 71-77
- Material poverty or wealth do not define spirituality. For example, you can live in either state and behave mean as a snake.
- Contentment gives way to abundance.
- Contentment and ambition are not mutually exclusive.