The Bible And The Homeless

Here is something I wrote some three and a half years ago. I think it bears repeating.

Christianity generally, and the Bible specifically, are subjects in need of exploring because a great many people respond to homelessness through them. Can there be a more easily manipulated person, to a confession of faith, than one suffering the burdens of homelessness? Some Christians will declare that during such difficult times, Christianity is in most need. Yet others will declare that people become homeless through Divine intervention – a ruse by God to get wayward people’s attention. I can’t tell you how many times a chaplain at the rescue mission chapel service declared to the coerced attendants, “It is no accident that you are here tonight.” Sadly, the rescue mission staff does not allow dissenting views to be expressed, on this subject, or any other.

Most people who feel compelled to bring Christianity to the homeless will declare the inerrancy of the Bible. The justification goes thusly – if the Bible is perfect, and they are preaching “from” the Bible, then the words they speak as they preach are also perfect, to be considered dutifully, without question. Such proclamations made so often at the begin of chapel services at the mission has caused many, including myself, to automatically turn off my attention, and dismiss whatever the chaplain is saying. On the other hand, if the chaplain starts out on the right foot, with humility and practicality, I’ve give him a listen. (and in this instance I use the pronoun “him” because women are not allowed to preach at the mission. Although the rescue mission claims that it is non-denominational, only fundamentalist views are allowed to be expressed at the mission.)

The Bible is not perfect, and there is plenty of reasonable proof of its imperfection. But, really, does the Bible have to be perfect? I don’t think so. God is still God, with, or without it. For some, though, their faith is founded on the Bible. In their twisted logic God can be proven to not exist, if the Bible can be found to be lacking. What a terrible state they put themselves in. Instead of having a relationship with God, they have a relationship with the Bible. And instead of developing a life in relationship with God, they spend all their time trying to defend the Bible, defend their faith, defend “Christianity,” etc., etc. But, God needs no defenders. God is perfectly capable of defending himself, and desires for us to instead spend our lives doing His will. A real Christian is not one who makes signs to the world that they are Christian, but is one who feeds the hungry, shelter the cold, provides for the needy, etc. A person who spends all their time trying to convert the already converted, and ignores or neglects their needs, is nursing a dead faith.

I often wonder where the body of Christ would be if we didn’t have the Bible, if the words of 2000 years ago were never put into print. I imagine that us “Christians” would be more alive in Christ, having a more dynamic relationship with God, because they are not confining their lives to the stories and few teachings found within the Bible. When witnessing to non-believers they wouldn’t turn to the Bible, as they do today as a crutch, but would instead relay their own real and personal experiences with the almighty. Churches and their doctrine would appeal more to the contemporary needs of people.

But today there is almost no accurate relating of God to people and their needs. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the story of the prodigal son at chapel services at the rescue mission. But let me tell you, folks, the story of the prodigal son is not a story about homelessness. There are no, sons-of-wealthy-land-owners, hanging out at the rescue mission after squandering their inheritance. That story doesn’t apply to us homeless. Please stop trying to make that square story fit into our round lives.

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About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless

5 comments

  1. well i'm not homeless [yet] but i live with abusive mother
    who starves me and treats me like dog shit

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  2. Funny thing is most of the people that I know that are homeless are Christians.

    Here's the sad thing, a lot of Christians have bought into the prosperity gospel. Even those who say they don't believe in the prosperity gospel have that mentality.

    I'll admit, I'm homeless, living on the streets. However, I don't go around begging people for anything. I try to make money any way that I can. I may not have enough money to put a roof over my head, but I do make enough money to eat. The closest I have to a roof over my head is a storage facility.

    I personally do not care about the stereotypes that people like me are singled out for. However, I do find them funny.

    Mental Illness is an example. I will say that I am mentally ill. However, I see a ton of other people that are mentally ill and they have cars and homes, as well as jobs. My mental illness comes from being harassed. I just want to be left alone.

    Here's how I got homeless. It was a combination of bad relationships, theft and slander. I had a rage-aholic father, a step mother who would just keep telling lies about me to set off my father's rage and then my last job, I got slandered out of it. Eventually, I've decided I had enough and moved out got an apartment. However, I just couldn't get work. (I'm suspecting it was because of all of the complaints which even my supervisor said that they sound unbelievable.) Then money mysteriously disappeared from my bank account.

    Ultimately, it was my choice. I am also not complaining even though it sounds like I am. I actually like my life right now, sort of. Being on the streets is not so bad when people just leave you alone. That's all I ask. I am no longer in the grasp of people that have it in for me.

    Now, some of you will assume that I am not a Christian. Well be my guest. The truth is I am deeper in relationship with the Lord than you fat wallets can ever dream of. I like how the self righteous Osteen-heads would automatically assume and try to diagnose my sin…

    “Well, all of this happened to you because you have quenched the spirit. You are knee deep in some kind of sin. You have stolen something. You are this, You did that.” Okay, if that is the case, why is it that you are not homeless either.”

    My turn, the reason all of this happened is that there is a God. The reason I am where I am is that I am saved. Before I came to know the Lord, I was on my way to reaching my goals. After I came to know the Lord, things just started taking a turn for the “worse.” People started rising up against me. All of a sudden I'm here.

    If you read the Bible, similar things have happened to the faithful to a much further extent than what happened to me. Take the Apostle Paul. He stood against Jesus Christ and the Christians the hardest. He had everything as well. He had a prominent position as a Pharisee. After he became Christ, it just got real. He gets stoned to near death, ship wrecked. He loses everything and becomes homeless and imprisoned. Guess what, he not only never did gain all of this financial, material wealth, physical health, good looks, etc, but he lost the material wealth that he had.

    The whole point in living for Christ is to have your mind on the things of Christ. Your desire for God must exceed your desire for anything else, because nothing material is promised to you.

    I realized I rambled on and on incoherently. I'm just not in my right mind.

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  3. Anonymous

    Why do those people who preach at the homeless do so while making assumptions about them?

    Between the prosperity gospel people who tell you your net worth is a direct reflection of God's love for you (your level of sin) and the people who assume that your poverty means you're not Christian makes it is a wonder anyone is saved in a shelter at all.

    Your story of blaming the boy with the badly healed broken leg for not walking straight is the most accurate description I have read to date. You should repost your exchange with that writer. Very illustrative on why writers should only write what they know about…

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  4. Absolutely Mark. I should make a video about it. There is a shelter in Las Vegas, run by the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. As their moto goes: “We serve a community, not a congregation.” No one working there ever brought up Jesus. Instead they focused on helping people get out of homelessness. I know no better example of Christ made real.

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  5. I couldn't agree with you more. I do think if the end goal of any mission to the homeless is to convert people to Christianity than all it's activities should be seen in that light. Have you seen other examples? People who you know are Christians but still try to do good for goodness sake and not with some other motive, like conversion to Christianity. Does that make a difference?

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