Respect for the homeless
A Christian Science perspective: Prayer to overcome homelessness
It is a very encouraging thing that the homeless population in the United States is getting smaller, and especially that there is a new resolve to find homes for the veterans who have served in the armed forces. But how can we persist to uphold the progress of those still living on the street?
A key for me is something I learned while serving in a soup kitchen many years ago. We were cleaning up the tables from lunch when a fellow came over to me to tell me good news. His brother had just asked him to come and live with him in California; he had his bus ticket and would leave in the morning. But before he left, he had something to say. “Thank you for respecting me at a time I didn’t respect myself.” This fellow said he could always tell by the way I prayed out loud before the meals, that I respected the group of people gathered. To respect someone is to know he or she is worthy of God’s loving care, and my prayers hopefully conveyed that everyone is worthy of that love.
How can we respect those around us, regardless of their economic status or personal circumstance?
We meet people at many different points in their life, and sometimes they are more on top of things than others. But what enables us to cut through the outward appearance is the conviction that never do God’s children fall out of God’s presence. This is because God is all, as the Scriptures inform us, and we can never be without Him.
God – the omnipresent, universal, Father-Mother, Spirit – created man in His perfect likeness. Even a glimpse of our relationship to God, Spirit, can make us more conscious of our spiritual being, which is created whole. This knowledge is the basis of self-respect, initiative, wisdom, and being a contributing part of the community.
One of the beliefs about the homeless is that God may be with them, but addiction and mental health issues prevent them from having any real understanding of God, and therefore being able to see or experience the blessings God brings.
The teachings of Christian Science bring out that God is universal, divine Mind, the source of all true conscious thought. While the human perspective sees a bunch of independent minds with their own degrees of freedom and slavery, a spiritual viewpoint sees the one Mind that is God – the creator of the universe – as the source of all freedom and useful thought. This Mind never stops knowing the children of His creating, and never stops causing His children to know their divine origin.
The Bible speaks to this fact in this way: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels” (Psalms 68:17). Angels are defined in part as “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect...” in Mary Baker Eddy’s primary text on Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. 581).
The tenacity of those angel messages, like the unruffled tenacity of light, penetrates the dark images of thought. God’s love proclaims the facts that individuality can never be lost, and that no one ever loses his or her value in life. Because of this there is a way out of mental ruts of isolation and deprivation.
Through those persistent angel messages, the healing power of Christ awakens individuals and moves thought forward in ways that reclaim lives.
I’ve seen the effects of the Christ operating with two of my friends who have been rescued from living on the street. One fellow found a fulfilling job, and another started his own business. In both cases, an awakening to their spiritual identity encouraged them to reconnect with humanity, and this awakening opened the door to the resources they needed to find the practical, permanent steps forward.
Both men found in the book Science and Health inspiration that sustained their progress. Mrs. Eddy writes: “Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (p. 332). This true idea voicing good spoke to them of the fact that they were worthy of respect because they were God’s children, made in His image, to express His spiritual perfection and completeness. With this renewed spiritual sense of worth, they were able to move forward.
It is such a relief to know that all of us can hear and respond to God’s thoughts coming to us – both those who need the help and those who want to help. To respect someone includes the hope of their progress, and that hope is rightly placed in everyone’s ability to respond to God’s communicating love.