Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)
Relate: I have both read and heard a story of a bunch of radical college students who took on a crazy mission, but it has been so long ago that some of the details might be a little fuzzy. What happened, happened at least a decade or more back. Probably a bit more. It was in the city of Philadelphia and a bunch of college students had forsaken their college dorm to live, or squat, in low rent and condemned tenement buildings. They were on a mission to show not just a distanced love, but a sincere solidarity with the poor and the homeless in their city.
There was a time when “word on the street” meant just that. Even before the advent of social media, most cities and ghettos had a highly efficient and effective grapevine. In a few days, Philly was going to be hosting one of the upcoming national conventions. Republican or democrat, I don’t remember which. Either way the legislators had passed some ordinance and shortly before the convention hit town the police would be doing a major sweep arresting and locking up all the city’s homeless for the duration. Word on the street spread quickly and since the students were living and loving on these poorest of the poor they found out well in advance. These students living in poor tenements, along with many of their friends who were still living in the dorms decided they would become “homeless” when this sweep was going to be happening.
Dozens of these courageous students were swept up and locked away for the night along with hundreds of other homeless men, women, and children. In order to keep these “vagrants” locked away for the duration of the Convention, they had to be brought up on some charge. You can imagine the judge, for whom this responsibility fell, when he found that a large percentage of those to be booked were reasonably well dressed and well spoken teens and twenty-somethings. He asked them what they thought they were doing. Rather than answering, each student and homeless adult took off their jackets and sweatshirts. Underneath everyone was wearing a shirt that contained this verse. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” – Jesus
The judge then said something along the lines of, “You are asking me to chose between upholding the law and maintaining justice. I choose justice.” Each and every one of these cases was summarily thrown out and everyone was allowed to go free.
React: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places at the most basic level: breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing, and sleep. Frankly, I would tend to agree. Not only do I acknowledge that the man was far smarter than I presume to be but he was also much more studied in this area. Beyond that, I know in my own life, if I do not have one of these “essentials” nothing else matters until the lack has been taken care of. This fact makes it interesting to note that Jesus knocks two of those of the list (food and clothing) in His sermon on the mount and here in the very next chapter He assaults shelter. According to Jesus, following in His footsteps is more important than half this list.
I can’t survive more than a minute or two without air. A day or so is about as far as I can make it without water. In my past I have proven that if I go more than two days without sleep I get very, very stupid very, very quickly. Even though I have twice gone longer (5 straight nights in high school, four sleepless nights out of five in college), after that first day, or perhaps two, I was no good for anything.
On the flip side, in my adult life I have gone more than a month without food and shelter at one point or another. For both, after the first couple days, you don’t notice the lack nearly as much. As for clothes… you’ll never find me at a nudist colony, but the things do exist and I assume the crazies that populate them get along fine.
I can guarantee each and every one reading this would be able to manage fine even if you were never again to view a computer, or television, or even hold a cell phone in your hands. So often so many of us pile one piece of temporary trash on top of another and claim how much we “need” these things. Jesus swings in the exact opposite direction. Even half of our true “needs” are not as vital as obedience to Him. Even what are scientifically acknowledged as essential needs are less important than obedience to Him. Following Jesus is the single, most vital need of our lives.
God, I need You. More than food, or a home, or the very clothes on my back, I need You. I will follow You. Even if that means that, like the Son of Man, I will have no place to lay my head, even still I will follow. Give me the wisdom to hold loosely to those things that clutter my life. Give me the courage to let them go the moment they interfere with my walk with You. Let Your will always be more important than my next breath.