RECENTLY I read a touching account of a search for a young man who had wandered off in New York City. Friends and family began an intensive search. Among other places, they went to all the public shelters for the homeless, asking if he had shown up there. What struck me was the reaction of homeless people staying in the shelters. They were surprised anyone cared enough about somebody to try that hard to find him.
Their poignant reaction sent me to my Bible for some new inspiration. What I found made me realize that if I really cared, I had to begin challenging the assumption that homelessness was an inevitable characteristic of our age.
The Bible points to a fundamental, spiritual permanence that belongs to each of us. It's not a house or people; it's our relationship to God. The Psalmist says, ''Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.'' n1
n1 Psalms 90:1
It may appear that economic and social factors have put homelessness on the rise. But, actually, what would uproot us and our society is more basic. It's the general conviction that there's no permanence and that human beings are at best tied together only by links of sporadic good will.
But this conviction can be challenged by spiritual fact, the fact that God, divine Love, is our real dwelling place, our source, our foundation, our anchor. Creation itself is established, embraced, and sustained by God. We can't truly be set adrift from the presence of divine Love.
No one has proved Love's presence with us more vividly than Christ Jesus. He searched out the spiritually disenfranchised and brought them back into the fold. He once healed a man who was violently insane and lived among the tombs. Then the Master encouraged the man to return to his home and to give praise to God there. n2 And when Jesus saw a widow and her friends mourning the death of her only son, he not only comforted the woman, he raised the son from the dead. n3
n2 See Luke 8:26-39
n3 See Luke 7:11-16
Jesus healed on the basis of the fundamental relationship between God and man. He was not forging a link; he was proving it already existed. In his care for others he challenged the view of man as sick, lost, or condemned, with the view of man as upright and cared for - the view his Father, divine Love, gave him. It is Love's will that each individual see his original dignity and spirituality as the child of God. It is Love's nature to pour out its healing and saving power.
That same outpouring, or manifestation, of divine Love still answers the yearning of the homeless for love and permanence. This manifestation of Love is the Christ, the divine presence Jesus demonstrated. The Christ breaks the cycle of rootlessness. It impels us to help others through prayer and through Christian fellowship.
A woman who had known times of homelessness and family breakup - Mary Baker Eddy n4 - was concerned not only for her own losses but for the sick and hopeless she saw around her in that turbulent world of the latter half of the 1800's. She had always turned to God in times of trouble. But through a remarkable spiritual healing she realized as never before God's presence and His power to heal. What she learned of this practical power she called Christian Science.
n4 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
In the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy writes, ''The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God's will must be universally done.'' n5
n5 Science and Health p. 202
An understanding of this unity has helped many people find shelter, care, healing. Some have been elderly, needing special care. Some have been teens in search of a family. What they saw of their permanent relationship with God led them not only to a place to live but to a feeling of being cherished and cared for by God.
As the child of divine Love, man lives in divine Love and can't be separated from God. The Apostle Paul speaks of our ''being rooted and grounded in love.'' n6 Each of us has the right to feel certain that he can't be uprooted from divine Love's care. And each has a right to find the human shelter and stability he needs. The two go together: the certainty of being rooted and grounded in God's love, and tangible proof of that love.
n6 Ephesians 3:17
DAILY BIBLE VERSE The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. . . Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalms 23:1,6