Do some people deserve to be homeless? And do some people deserve to live in nice homes? While we’re at it, do the people in nice homes deserve to have the homeless people kept away from them?
For sure, there’s a lot of NIMBY. Not In My Back Yard. But sometimes it’s just amazing how far people go with it. And how open they are about it. They’re honest. But are they right? And what are the implications for them in the long run? The truly long run, that is.
Where can homeless people live?
A Los Angeles area TV station did a story asking, Were homeless people told to move to the Beverly Hills area? Just in case you’re not familiar with Beverly Hills, it’s a place for the rich and famous – and the rich and wanna be famous. Emphasis on rich.
The story began:
Residents of a homeless encampment that is exploding in size along the Los Angeles city limit with Beverly Hills claim they were urged to move there by law enforcement.
The encampment has sprouted up in recent days along San Vicente Boulevard near the upscale Beverly Center shopping mall to the outrage of residents and business owners in this affluent area.
“They’re fighting at all hours of the day. They’re doing drugs. They’re selling drugs. It’s out of control,” one Beverly Grove resident told us. “We pay so much in property tax and so much in income tax, it is not fair for us to live like this.”
So the questions arise from that last statement.
What happens when rich people have homeless people near them?
Do some people deserve to be homeless?
And do some people deserve to live in nice homes?
Do the people in nice homes deserve to have the homeless people kept away from them?
Notice the comment. Rich people don’t deserve to have to put up with homeless people near them. After all, they pay lots of taxes.
Apparently that means homeless people have to live somewhere else. So, someone must deserve to have homeless people living on the streets around them. Who is that? Who deserves it? Someone must, in the eyes of that rich person.
Finally, the missing piece – nothing was said about the plight of the homeless people. No statement that no one deserves to be in a position where they have to live like that. Apparently they do, in the eyes of that person. And obviously, someone else needs to pay for whatever they do get, wherever they end up, because the rich people already pay enough taxes.
Maybe the homeless person could get a minimum wage job slaving away for the rich people who don’t want to pay them enough to enable them to live near Beverly Hills? Let them move to the poorest parts of the city, where they deserve to be?
Oh yeah – what about contributing something to help? What about a whole list of other things?
But my focus today is on that attitude of – I’m rich, I don’t deserve to even see homeless people.
Further, it’s especially for the rich people who go to church and think they’re great Christians.
What did Jesus say about this scenario?
Conclusion – Do some people deserve to be homeless?
One more time – Do some people deserve to be homeless?
Absolutely not. We’ve read plenty to know that’s not true.
We also know, if we paid attention to what Jesus taught, that although He came to save everyone, it’s the “sick” that will be saved. Translation – in terms of the haves and the have-nots – it’s the have-nots that are most likely to respond to Jesus’ message It’s the haves who will most likely reject it.
And then we end up with the scenario of Lazarus and the Rich Man.
Finally, while everything we looked at above was about money, I believe it’s more than “just” money. We have an incredible tendency to miss the point of the passage below. It’s misquoted so often.
Love of Money
1Ti 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
1Ti 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Yes, it’s about money. Primarily. But notice that last verse. The one we quote incorrectly so often.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil
There are five words in there that we tend to leave out. “The love of” has three of them. The other two are “kinds of”. And there’s one we change – from “a” to “the”.
We make it: For
the love of money is a [the] root of all kinds of evil
Let’s make it easier to read: For money is the root of all evil/.
Clearly, when we pay attention, these two are different.
First of all, it’s the love of money, not money itself. It’s possible, although not easy, to have money but not have that money drive our lives. That’s the love of money part.
Secondly, it does not say that money is the root of all evil, but that it’s the root of all kinds of evil. That means there are other things that also cause evil. Money have have the greatest draw on us. But it’s not the only thing.
So, when we read the Bible, and see money referenced, we must also remember that it’s not necessarily money. It’s whatever the thing is that prevents us from truly following Jesus.
So, in the case of our question – Do some people deserve to be homeless? – there are various things that can prevent us from helping the homeless.
- Money is certaintly right up there.
- NIMBY – not wanting homeless people near us. This can be true for anyone who has a home, regardless of how much money they have. Or don’t have.
- Fear – there can be legitimate fears for safety due to drugs, alcohol, mental health issues, etc. There can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to solving the problem.
- Greed and corruption – sometimes the people given responsibility by the government to assist with the problem are corrupt, and the money doesn’t go where it’s supposed to go.
- Sometimes, homeless people are enabled to continue with their state of homelessness. This one surprised me. But I learned a lot about this from someone who used to be homeless.
- and so on …
The bottom line though, is this God does not desire that there be homeless people among us. As Christians, we are told to care about the poor, the widows, the children, and others.
We cannot boil the ocean and save everyone. But then, we shouldn’t pretend the ocean doesn’t exist, and do nothing for anyone about anything.
It’s not easy. It’s very hard. But if we pray to God, listen to His Holy Spirit, we can and will come to realize which parts of this vast ocean of problems in our world are part of His plan for our lives.
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