Jesus was born in a manager, and afterward he spent significant periods of his life without a customary residence, and ultimately he was crucified. What a life?
And how many sons and daughters of God today, live outdoors or in isolation, not only in America but around the rest of the world? And sadly, many of today's current outdoor citizens, after bearing their crosses in isolation, end up dying alone!
Is there anything wrong with living outdoors, in isolation or as a hermit? When is living outdoors or in isolation a problem?
As irreverent as it may sound, it appears to me that Jesus was a homey too. And, as opposed to hanging out with the intelligentsia, the elite, political power brokers, clerics or the wealthy of his day, as a rule he often made his abode among the great unwashed of his time. In other words, Jesus mostly hung out with 'the homeys of his day'. And he was not alone in that regard, remember John the Baptist, Elijah, Ezekiel and other historical outdoor citizen icons, also practiced similar ascetic lifestyles.
What explanation can there be for giants like these, having to or choosing to spend considerable periods of their lifetimes, living in isolation. Frequently they lived mountains, wildernesses, caves and among the great unwashed of their day? Ezekiel even complained of being all alone.
Any one of these icons, and individuals similar to them who practiced asceticism, could have used their gifts and talents to garner self-promotion.
Why would these gentlemen ... choose to remain outdoors, only to be teased by children, disdained by members of the upper crust of society, hungry, isolated and rejected? And what about John, who is often referred to as the Baptist, exactly who was his haberdasher? Elijah frequently adorned similar garb.
And even though Daniel eventually spent much of his life in the Royal Palace at Sushan, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, found themselves living under peculiar circumstances, even by today's standards. Remember, Jeremiah remained behind with the remnant when at the same time Ezekiel, another great prophet was forced to resides among the refugees in the Ghettos beside the River Chabar. Seldom did they complain about their living circumstances, even when sinking in the mire.
Given their stations in life, or better yet their reputations, it is inconceivable that they would have lived, moved and hung out with the great unwashed, even though they were called, apparently, to do so. How many of us would have obeyed if we received a similar calling. Why would Dr. Paul, reject all of the significant years of training that he received at the feet of Gamaliel, the nephew of Hillel, an education that could have garnered for him great wealth and the right station in life among the aristocracy.
And what is the lesson for each one of us? It is, I believe, that all of us ought to understand that the Earth is the Lord, and the fullness thereof - and as a result, all of us ought to understand that we are creatures of the earth (in other words composed of the earth). And what makes us different is that we are apparently earthen vessels that have been infused with the spirit of life.
According to writer of the book of Genesis, God metaphorically breathed breath into man, and man became a living soul in deference to the flora and the fauna ... Prior to being infused with life, humans were nothing more than mud creatures. For example, have you ever gone out to the beach and taken mud or hydrated sand and created a figure that had all of the features of an animal or person, bit still it lacked one thing, the ability to move, get up, walk, think, fly, run, breath ...?
Well, that is all we were, prior to being jolted with the gift of life. Job explained, in the poetic book that bears his name, that he would return to womb from which he came, the earth. In the original King James version of the bible, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said, "thy will be done (in) earth, as it is in heaven". Even though most translations today read, "thy will be done (on) earth, as it is done in heaven", for me it changes the entire context. In fact, I suspect that something significant has been lost in the re-interpretation.
Consider this, if God's word is 'forever settled (in) heaven,' then I suspect that it is just as significant that both God's word and his will be settled (inside of the earth), and we are 'the earthen creatures that Jesus may have been referring to'. His will being done 'on earth', says something altogether different to me. Get it?
And given that we are earthen vessels infused with spirit, and composed with ingredients from the earth, is it any wonder that not only the historical icons mentioned above, especially Jesus, spent considerable periods of their lives being one with the earth, mountains, trees and the great unwashed of the earth that typically resided outside.
Around the world today, in both developed and undeveloped countries, many of the citizens of the world are still outdoor citizens. By comparison, individuals who typically live in buildings, palaces of stone, straw, clay, wood ... have been and are still being extended respect, while at the same time their deferential brothers and sisters on the outside are often treated with disrespect. In other words, the highlanders receive respect, and the lowlanders receive disrespect.
Whether one happens to be a highlander or a lowlander, there is no shame in living outdoors, that is, with this caveat: It is your desire to remain outdoors, and you have the ability, desire and willingness to take care of yourself and your needs.
Among the outdoor citizen's demographic in modern day America, a significant number of outdoor citizens have chosen outdoor living as a lifestyle. Some outdoor citizens have chosen the highlands, and others have chosen the lowlands, but one thing that each group has in common is that they prefer a native habitat as opposed to living inside of a modern day structure.
Sadly, due to public policy and government regulations, the freedom to live outdoors is considered to be atypical or aberrant behavior, and the individuals who practice outdoor living, are considered to be nuisances, criminals, vagrants, vermin, varmints, varmants or strange.
The right of outdoor people to light a fire, in order to stay warm on a cold night, to dig a well in order to acquire water ... has all but been stripped away. And the earth is the Lord's, did we say?
I wonder, what right does another human being or government institution have to tell a human being who lacks a domicile, or chooses not to have one - that he or she cannot build and light a fire in order to keep themselves warm at night? And the current practice where outdoor citizens are forbidden to do so, is even more disturbing given the exploding homeless epidemic that is taking place in America.
Coupled with greed, unemployment, globalization, corporate down-sizing, outsourcing, jobs being sent overseas ... many Americans are experiencing, not by choice or plan, the need to live outside again, whether they want to live outside or not.
And what that says to me is that the regulations, and the public policy that created these regulations, needs to be modified, in order to adapt to the need of individuals to set up tents, a lean to or to build fires, construct camps ... America is in a state of emergency, in a similar manner as it would be if we were under military attack, or if there was some geologic anomaly. Legislators, policy-makers, local, state and national leaders, should have little to say when individuals have to find creative ways to survive, particularly when the former all return each day to warm domiciles with heat and running water.
Similar to the native or aboriginal people in most countries, native Americans also lived outdoors, and never once did any of them, I suspect, consider themselves to be homeless.
If home is where the heart is, any place can be home, particularly if you feel comfortable.
The highlanders in the American scenario, appear to be the individuals that still have domiciles, some more than one, two or even three, and having that, the number of individuals who have homes is beginning to shrink as more homeowners are being dispossessed from their homes. So back to my point, what are outdoor citizens to do, particularly when they are no jobs, they cannot afford homes and the policy-makers use the police to keep their boots on their necks? Shouldn't outdoor citizens be permitted to construct habitats for themselves, without returning to find that they have been crushed by police officers who are simply following orders?
I heard someone on the radio say about a decade ago, that if God instructed Noah to erect an Ark in America, that he would very likely be unable to do so as God instructed him to do. Why?
The speaker, in the voice of Noah explained to God why he could not build the ark in the allotted time. "God", he said, "I tried, but I could get the environmental impact study done in time, and the Army Corp of engineers have to be brought in, and that will take time and then there is the regulatory commission to deal with ..."
Folks, America is changing and the laws will have to change as well, in order to meet the needs of the people, or otherwise what good is a commonwealth or a union of states, if it no longer can address the needs of the members of the commonwealth? What I like about Jesus was and is, he seemed to have an affinity for the permanent underclass of his day. And not only would he preach to them or teach them, Jesus, actually got out, hung out with them, drank from the same wells, imbibed on a pouch full of wine, played football (well, I take a bit of license here), but you get my drift.
As a homey, I suspect that Jesus and his homeys were often dusty and perhaps a bit smelly at times. And on occasion, they would apparently enter into a field of corn, glean and have a bite to eat. Today, you could go to jail for doing such a thing. Why would Jesus behave in such such a manner, was he a thug? Or perhaps, he did it to set an example for the rest of us, and to remind us that what we do to the least of his little ones, that we do the same to them, especially when we look down our noses at people who live on the outside, instead of on the inside of the house!
Born outside (on the road), wrapped in swaddling clothes, lain in a manager ... and lacking what the foxes and birds had, holes and nest, or even a place to lay his head. Isn't it amazing that history is repeating itself today in America. Today, it is Mary, Jane, Johnny ..., who often are without a place to lay their heads .
If we don't have a sufficient amount of homes to go around, even though more and more of them are sitting empty today, let's adapt our public and social policy, so that we can accommodate individuals who are sincerely in need of help, even when it means living outside comfortably throughout the years.
If you have never lived outside among the great unwashed, I suggest that you try it. I was forced to do so myself, to the surprise of former neighbors, relatives, ministers, former parishioners and friends. And the experience taught me what ministry was actually all about, and why Jesus, Ezekiel, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist lived, often, in the manner that they did.
To live among, sit on the ground, dine and share utensils in some cases, with other individuals who were willing to share what little they had, was an eye opening experience for me. And, as a result, my ministry will never be the same. Perhaps all of America, should have a night or two out - someone contact President Obama, and see if he can arrange it. Trust me, if Jesus were here today, and he carried on as he once did, back in the day, most Americans would not be hanging out with Jesus, or the other prophets that I mentioned before, other than the individuals on skid row.
The latter group would likely welcome him into their camps, and offer him some of what they had to eat or drink. I will close with the lyrics of this song in mind: Jesus Christ Superstar ... There are a lot of superstars living outdoors, and if Jesus were to reappear in the manner that many believers expect him to do someday, where do you suppose that he will be hanging out, at the White House or the Church house?
I suspect that Jesus would go and find the lost sheep of the House of America, 'the homeys', rap with and live among them! So do as I did, and go and spend 4 or 5 months living outside with the outdoor people, or wherever you might find a place to lay your head (as opposed to longing for 'a mansion in the sky' as most Christians are doing. Besides, a certain percentage of Americans, who are not aware of it yet, are going to end up living outside too, if things don't change - and it could be you and your family!
Also the President of the Outdoor Citizen's Coalition & Think Tank of Santa Clara County California