The World is Strange
Updated: Jul 19, 2018
I recently heard a radio ad from HUD (the dept. of Housing & Urban Development) pointing out the injustice of housing discrimination, and how to take steps to seek justice if wronged in renting or buying a house or apartment. I think justice and impartiality are great, so I certainly wouldn't disagree with fighting discrimination in this form. But what I heard to cap off the ad was a statement that I didn't think was great. 'You have a right to fair housing,' the narrator said. I remember saying out loud: do I really? By whose authority? I guess the obvious answer to the second question is the U.S. Government. But I began thinking about why that statement didn't resonate as true for me, then the Holy Spirit reminded me of something Jesus said.
In response to someone desiring to follow him in Luke 9, He had these words:
“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” LUKE 9:58
Then I recounted a similar verse in 2nd Corinthians, which reads:
"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." 2ND CORINTHIANS 5:1
The point I'm about to make isn't about the characteristics of one's home, but rather the rights that we think we have. If the son of man wasn't guaranteed suitable lodging, which is inferred in Luke 9, must I expect it, or feel entitled to it? I think not. I've long felt the same way about health care, a job, and the money that's necessary to feed my family. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above, the Father of Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (JAMES 1:17) I have to believe this verse; everything that's good is a gift, therefore I'm not owed nor guaranteed anything. I don't think that I 'deserve' fair housing. If being the least qualifies me as the greatest in the Kingdom, why should adequate housing be a major concern? Besides, what constitutes as fair?
Another example of how this sense of entitlement reveals itself, almost exclusively with Christian circles, is the idea of 'church shopping.' I immediately have questions if you're the buyer in this scenario. Is church a product or service? Are you owed something in the shopping process? Are you determining your decision on what church can do the most for you? If yes to that last one, why hadn't you checked in with God about that decision? Does shopping for what local body suits you best really align with Jesus' example to serve (MATTHEW 20:28) and count others greater than yourself (PHILIPPIANS 2:3)?
The overarching theme that's apparent as I write this is that the things that are normal in the world are so odd to the believer, or at least they should be. I'd wager that a large percentage of folks that hear or read the HUD mission statement would agree that 'yes, it is my right to fair housing.' I'm not necessarily pushing that I'm right and they're wrong, but I'm reasonably sure that I'm seeing this the way God does. It's true that He desires mercy, He's concerned with justice, the oppressed, the orphans, and the widows, but He's also not raising up a generation of Christians that think they're overdue somehow.
The advantage that Jesus & Paul have in the passages above is that they're more determined about eternity than they are concerned about their present material reality. "Self" was last in line at what influenced their hearts. It can be that way for us too, and, of course, this is not limited to fair housing or church shopping. The ugly reality of entitlement inundates American culture today and we'd be wise to take inventory in our own hearts to make sure we're not expecting too much from people or institutions, OR putting our trust in man, and not God.
The world's values are looking less and less like Jesus' values, so now more than ever I do believe it's important to take this one lesson to heart.
- JF D'Orsie - Communications Director - PCC