May 20, 2005, 8:29 am
Filed under: uncategorized

In working with a homeless population, in particular a substance dependent homeless population, I’ve been noticing some things about how the church (at least the church of North America) has done it’s work of life transformation. The majority of the homeless shelters that are available have some sort of a Christian faith base to them. In some cases, in order to be allowed to eat the food or sleep there, the shelters require their guests to attend a chapel service. In some cases, attendance is not required, but the chapel services are there in order to encourage the people. Some of my clients like that this is the case, while others roll their eyes at the thought of having to sit through some boring church service.

Jesus and his apostles told us in no uncertain terms that we are to care for the poor, etc. I’m glad that these organizations exist and that they are taking their following of Jesus seriously in that way. I applaud their efforts – even if some of them go a little too far in attempting to manipulate folks by using food and shelter. At least they’re doing something.

The thing that interests me is what the homeless people being served have learned from the church. I have clients who are actively using drugs, engaging in sexual practices of all varieties, stealing from others, and a long list of other things. And oh, by the way, they talk about how active they are in their Christian faith. Yesterday, I was talking to one of them about his personal faith, and he described it with impressive theological precision . . . just before telling me how hard it is for him to quit smoking weed. As I was thinking about how incongruent that was, I came to the thought that it actually wasn’t all that different than the rest of the church culture.

How much of a change in lifestyle is required of those who commit to following Jesus? It would be easy to blame the lack of lifestyle change on the seeker movement, given their approach of “lowering the barrier for entry.” But honestly, I think professed belief without noticeable change in lifestyle predates the whole Willowback/Saddlecreek thing. So today I’m pondering what a real, healthy Jesus follower looks like, and trying to be that.


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