Senior poster at Chicago's Jesus People USA and founder member of Rez, Glenn Kaiser takes a look at what he calls Spiritual Homelessness.
One of the saddest things we deal with here in the "land of plenty" is the homeless situation. Far too many people have fallen through the cracks of our society, forgotten and basically shoved aside out of sight, out of mind.
How does actual homelessness relate to what I have referred to as "spiritual homelessness"?
There are those who have come to Christ who have had little but dull, dry, "Sahara" desert experiences with a particular church. Little they hear on Sunday relates to Monday. Perhaps the sermon information is removed from the real struggles and needs in their life. The worship could be quite stale and antiquated on a number of levels. Or people visiting that church truly get rejected on the basis of race or culture. These are legitimate complaints in many cases. But sometimes, there are other problems.
A lot of people hop from church to church looking for something they will never find. And the imperfections inherent in each local fellowship aren't difficult to see if one looks a bit. Someone said that we should forget about trying to find the perfect church, because as soon as we joined it, it would cease to be perfect!
I am convinced that many who find fault with local fellowships - be they house churches, traditional or contemporary, evangelical, charismatic, whatever - remain "homeless" at their own wish. But it is a lonely, cynical, potentially bitter road one walks in such a spiritual condition.
In my travels worldwide, I constantly hear unscriptural excuses as to why people refuse to settle into committed relationships. Whether in marriage, family relations, taking responsibility in holding a job or relationship to a strong, Christ-centred Bible-teaching fellowship of believers, relationships are painful, difficult and essential to our spiritual/physical health!
How can we "love our neighbour" as the Lord Jesus commands if we are constantly removing ourselves from them? Furthermore, should not God choose our neighbours for us? Does this principle not hold true in terms of our individual relationships to the local church? Are we the centre of our decisions or is Christ?
By the way, if one wants to consider painful relationships, look directly at Jesus. He laid his life down for love of those who ultimately crucified him! He even walked with Judas for three years - knowing full well what Judas' personal sins were, and how it would affect him...
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb 10:24, 25)
My point is simply this: spiritual homelessness is rampant in the world, certainly in Britain. Too many people refuse to commit to meaningful, Christ-centred relationships at the local church level. Many attend the odd Bible study, go to a festival or two, or are groupies of some Christian band. No matter how much one may enjoy such a gathering, learns from teaching offered there, grooves on the cultural unity and soul-art-vibes of others in such situations - it ain't church! If there is no ongoing pastoral relationship, teaching, accountability for one's maturing in Christ - there is no Biblical, spiritual home there.
The resulting fruit of a lack of committed relationships to a local church? Individualism, selfishness, judgementalism, self-righteousness, separation and ultimate personal spiritual decay and decline for those who assume to function as a church unto themselves.
Are there bad churches? Fellowships with overbearing leaders, ignorant teachers, dry worship experiences, immaturity, racial/cultural bigotry? Absolutely! And I am not advocating deep and committed relationships with that sort of church. But to drift from place to place, or to never really plant one's roots deeply in a local church is foolishness personified.
There is "one church". We may not all occupy the kingdom of the "hip", but if we are truly members of the Kingdom of God, we will relate on an ongoing basis to the local and larger church as it is: the family of God.
There are cures for homelessness. They cost everyone something. But some are willing to do what they must in order to risk relationships that heal, change and bless. There are many reasons for homelessness, and it is a complex problem - yet not without viable solutions.
The same goes for the spiritually homeless. But I am afraid most in
such a condition remain in the cold by choice. This is not the will of
God for anyone! In faith and sacrifice one finds the solutions. What
will you risk for love?
As always, the Lord has the last word:
God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land." (Ps 68:6)The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
View all articles by Glenn Kaiser