Will there be homeless people in Heaven? Who cares? Whoa! A two-part question. And trick questions at that? The correct answers are yes/no and yes. Huh? Looks like a trick answer as well. Think about it and try to come up with an answer in that format. Then, let’s see how you did.
I ask because of something I read in The Detroit News. An article titled, More older Americans at risk of a homeless retirement.
Unless you’ve been hibernating for the last couple of years, you know the sad reality of homelessness in what we call the greatest country in the world. Maybe it is, if you’re one of the fortunate ones who has enough money to have a place to live and buy good food.
Before the stimulus payments that most Republicans, that may be you if you’re a conservative Christian, more than 14 percent of the people in America lived in poverty. That doesn’t mean they could afford good food or a decent home. That number is even higher. Our measure of poverty is strictly monetary and has nothing at all to do with quality of life.
After those payments, which most Republicans thought were wasted, the number dropped below 10 percent. Certainly, the ones who had their quality of life lifted above something most of us wouldn’t want to experience, didn’t think that money was wasted.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. That’s the second question. Who cares? At this point, I just point out, most Republicans, including lots of conservative Christians, seem to be among those who don’t care.
Homelessness in America
Here’s how the article started off.
Karla Finocchio’s slide into homelessness began when she split with her partner of 18 years and temporarily moved in with a cousin.
The 55-year-old planned to use her $800-a-month disability check to get an apartment after back surgery. But she soon was sleeping in her old pickup protected by her German Shepherd mix Scrappy, unable to afford housing in Phoenix, where median monthly rents soared 33% during the coronavirus pandemic to over $1,220 for a one-bedroom, according to ApartmentList.com.
Finocchio is one face of America’s graying homeless population, a rapidly expanding group of destitute and desperate people 50 and older suddenly without a permanent home after a job loss, divorce, family death or health crisis during a pandemic.
As the sign in the image at the top says – “once I was like you“.
Think about it. She couldn’t afford to own a house. Can you?
Her rent went up 33% over the past two years. Can you afford a rent increase like that? Or, if you’re fortunate to own a home, can you afford a one-third increase in your mortgage payment?
But we’re not done yet. If you’re one of the substantial number of people who can’t afford that kind of increase, what are you going to give up? And don’t forget, lots of other prices went up as well. So the question just got harder. What are you going to give up, with the price of everything going up?
I’m OK now, but I remember ending up most months with maybe $1.00 left. No savings. Food that was far from healthy, but cheap. Didn’t go anywhere or do anything other than work multiple part-time jobs and go to school. No savings account. No health care. Hard decisions have to be made. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go without a place to live. At least I could afford a room over someone’s garage.
Many, many people aren’t as fortunate. In the alleged greatest country in the world, too many people are without healthcare, food (healthy or otherwise), and a place to live.
And it’s only going to get worse. As the rich get richer the poor get poorer. But who cares? Life goes on the those with enough to set the rules.
How bad will homelessness in America get?
Here’s what the article had to say about the prospects for people in this great country as they approach retirement age.
“We’re seeing a huge boom in senior homelessness,” said Kendra Hendry, a caseworker at Arizona’s largest shelter, where older people make up about 30% of those staying there. “These are not necessarily people who have mental illness or substance abuse problems. They are people being pushed into the streets by rising rents.”
Academics project their numbers will nearly triple over the next decade, challenging policy makers from Los Angeles to New York to imagine new ideas for sheltering the last of the baby boomers as they get older, sicker and less able to pay spiraling rents. Advocates say much more housing is needed, especially for extremely low-income people.
Almost a one-third increase! I live near Los Angeles. I see the homeless camps in the city. I also see them in the surrounding communities. Including where I live and the ones around us. They’re real. They aren’t “Fake News”. They’re real people. With real lives. People who used to be like us.
And please don’t say they’re all people with mental problems. For one thing, if they are, then they need help! But for another thing, for many and for an increasing number, the only problem they have is that they can’t afford to retire. But they also can’t keep working forever. And likely can’t find a job if they want to that can pay for the rent and food anymore.
But who cares? Most of us don’t care, until it’s us. And then it’s too late. Because by that time, those who have enough won’t care about us either, because we won’t have enough to matter.
Who’s homeless in America?
Who are the homeless people in America? Really, aren’t they druggies or people who are off in the head? Think again.
Cardelia Corley ended up on the streets of Los Angeles County after the hours at her telemarketing job were cut.
Now 65, Corley said she was surprised to meet so many others who were also working, including a teacher and a nurse who lost her home following an illness.
“I’d always worked, been successful, put my kid through college,” the single mother said. “And then all of a sudden things went downhill.”
Corley traveled all night aboard buses and rode commuter trains to catch a cat nap.
“And then I would go to Union Station downtown and wash up in the bathroom,” said Corley.
Inion Station here in Los Angeles is a famous landmark. But now, it’s a place for formerly employed people that had good jobs to clean up in the restrooms. All the while, the people who still have good jobs go through Union Station, ignore those use used to have good jobs, and catch the train or a bus to their good jobs. And if they walked to Union Station, well, no, hardly anyone walks in that neighborhood. If the people who “have” drove to Union Station, they went past plenty of tent communities. Past the people who “don’t have” anymore.
If you haven’t read the article, I really urge you to do so. Again, it’s at More older Americans at risk of a homeless retirement. Some day, it might be about you.
Will there be homeless people in Heaven?
So with that, let’s get to our first question. Will there be homeless people in Heaven?
I answered yes/no. Did you figure out what it means?
Here’s a clue.
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Did you catch the clue? It’s the second verse – In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. As often happens, the NIV translation really waters down the impact of what Jesus said. We read about the Father’s house with many rooms. However, in order to determine what house signifies, we must look at what rooms means. Here’s the Greek word we just read as rooms.
3438 μονή [mone /mon·ay/] n f. From 3306; TDNT 4:579; TDNTA 581; GK 3665; Two occurrences; AV translates as “mansion” once, and “abode” once. 1 a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode. 2 to make an (one’s) abode. 3 metaph. of the God the Holy Spirit indwelling believers. Strong, J. (1995). In Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
It says mansions. Other translations, including my frequent fallback translation, the Young’s Literal Translation, actually uses the word mansions. Well, if the Father’s house contains many mansions, then it’s no ordinary house. Even the most extreme buildings we have today aren’t likely to hold many mansions. And they’re woefully short when we consider the simple, straightforward comment below:
14:2 Mansions refers to dwelling places. Everybody has a longing for a permanent, secure place. Such places have already been set aside for all of God’s children. Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Jn 14:2). T. Nelson Publishers.
Again – Will there be homeless people in Heaven?
So, I ask again. Will there be homeless people in Heaven? Remember, the answer was yes/no. Here’s how it works out.
Yes, people who are currently homeless will be in Heaven.
No, once in Heaven, no one will be homeless.
There’s something I want to point out about both of them.
Yes, people who are currently homeless will be in Heaven.
What’s the big deal about people who are currently homeless will be in Heaven? Well, here’s just one of many.
Love for Enemies – Matthew
Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
As Jesus pointed out, most people at least greet their brothers and sisters. People like themselves. Christians are supposed to do that and so much more. And yet, we often don’t. Do you remember Phil Collins’ song, Another Day In Paradise? I wrote about it in Do Christians know who is poor? If you really want to see how you’re doing with love for enemies, check it out. And while you’re at it, consider that homeless people aren’t our enemies. They’re probably even lower on our list than actual enemies. Why? Because we don’t even want to see them. Or think about them. They’re an “enemy” to our attempts to think we’re good people.
Once in Heaven, no one will be homeless
This is good news. Good news that’s more likely to be not only acceptable, but incredibly desirable, but only to some people. It’s good news, much in the manner of the good news towards the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. No hints here. See if you can find the significant passage that’s a clue as to why this no-homeless-people thing is only going to be desirable to some.
The Shepherds and the Angels
Lk 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Lk 2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
Lk 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Lk 2:15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Lk 2:16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
OK. Did you find the clue?
Here it is.
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Here’s why. The angels told the shepherds that Jesus’ coming was good news for all the people. However, at The Last Supper, Jesus said, in Mt 26:28, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.
There are more verses between these two. But this extreme really makes the point. Yes, Jesus came to save everyone. However, being saved is a choice we must make. And the Bible tells us, all too clearly, that most of us will not make that choice. Even the incident where Jesus healed ten men of leprosy reveals to us that only one of them was actually saved! One out of ten. That’s not good. For a much deeper look at that, I invite you to check out The problem of “a Better Place”.
The bottom line is this. The angels first gave this message to the most despised people in the culture of the time. Shepherds. Jesus coming to save them, pretty much the scum of the earth, was fabulous news! And today? Jesus’ offer of eternal life in the Father’s house? It’s fabulous news to those who are homeless. But for those of us that have a home? It’s not as important to us as it is to someone who has nothing.
In fact, the more we have, the less an offer of a room in a house in a foreign place after we die? What’s the big attraction when we already have everything? There’s no attraction. Not unless we realize that we actually have nothing meaningful. Not even our huge mansions. Not even the ones where I live that are plunked down in the neighborhoods where most of us have 80-year-old houses that, to those with more money, are only good for the earth they sit on, so they buy the land for outrageous sums of money, tear down the existing house, or two if they can get adjacent lots, and build their mansions.
But, as I pointed out, they don’t realize those mansions are nothing compared to the Father’s “house”.
And that’s the segue to the third and final question. Who cares?
As we saw, the homeless people, if anyone takes the good news to them, they care.
What about the rest of us? We can only care if we can realize that our “riches” are nothing compared to the “riches” in the Father’s house. That there’s no better place on earth or in Heaven that to be in the Father’s house.
Only then can we begin to realize just how awesome the gift of salvation through Jesus is. Only then can we begin to act in the manner Jesus taught us. And only then can we truly show full compassion for those who don’t have here on earth. Yes, anyone who wants to can help the homeless with food, housing, various types of support.
So who does care the most? By far? God cares. That’s who.
Which leads to our conclusion.
Conclusion – Will there be homeless people in Heaven? Who cares?
As Jesus said, What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? That statement cuts both ways. It’s for housed as well as what we politely call the unhoused. Although, I think the politeness is probably more to make ourselves feel better than the person who doesn’t have the same kind of home as the rest of us. After all, if being unhoused was a good thing, why do we treat the unhoused like we do?
But back on point. Here’s the full passage for the excerpted line above.
Jesus Predicts His Death – Mark
8:31—9:1 pp — Mt 16:21-28; Lk 9:22-27
Mk 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
Mk 8:33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Mk 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Mk 9:1 And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”
Let’s look at it, as a whole, and in the context of the current topic of homelessness.
What good is it for us if we’re Christian, but we only care about the housing status of people and not their eternal souls? We’ve maybe fixed a temporary problem, but not helped the person come to be a resident, for all eternity, in the Father’s house. What good is that? For either of us?
On the flip side, if we’re not Christian, we certainly aren’t going to help ourselves or those we’re trying to help with housing gain residence in the Father’s house? How can we? We don’t believe in Him? Therefore, we also can’t, by definition, truly believe in Heaven or that we can actually live in His house. It’s true. We cannot spend any time, living or dead, with someone we don’t believe exists! What good is that? For anyone?
No, the only way to do eternal good is to work with God. That way, we may have some success getting people homes for the time they have left on earth. But look at the big picture. If we can help someone gain residence in the Father’s house, how awesome is that?
Life can truly suck. But it’s so short compared to eternity.
The shepherds understood the words of the angels. The least in this world can live with God. But some of the alleged greatest in this world just have a hard time grasping that.
There are no homeless people in Heaven. Because God cares. No matter what our present circumstances, He cares for us. And He offers us a place in His house.
So, which God do you want to follow and trust?
The god you see in the mirror who wants to take care of everything on their own?
Or the God who offers a place in His house, forever?
Image by Q K from Pixabay