The 2 Corinthians reading from last Sunday has really stayed with me. The passage speaks about our plenty, allowing us to share with those in need and vice versa. One verse in particular has given me extra pause for thought (8:15) : “The one who had much did not have too much and the one who had little did not have too little.” Some translations use the word “gathered” instead of “had” to refer to those gathering enough food to meet their and their families’ physical needs.
Housing is a major need in the Treasure Valley. Rents and home prices are skyrocketing, and inventory is low. Because the ministry I work for provides rent-free housing, I am constantly in conversations about housing, affordability, and how to help our residents re-enter such a market. One of my colleagues was recently reflecting on the Gospel of John and the particular word “abide.” To abide means “to live or to dwell in” and when Jesus says “abide in me,” he is inviting us to make our home in his love.
“But what if you know nothing of home?” my colleague inquired. “If you have no real experience of an abiding place, how can you really hear the good news of Christ? How can you get past the quiet terror that must grip your heart, the hopelessness that must weigh you down when you have no place to live, to sleep, to be safe, or to shelter your children?”
Convicting yet compelling words. As Christians we have always been called to care for our neighbor. The specific type of care has surely taken many shapes and forms over the ages, but in our current context, I think housing our neighbors may be the greatest care we can give.
What strikes me about this passage from Corinthians is that it recognizes some will have “more” and some will have “less,” but all will have enough. We should all have what we need even if we do not have the exact same amount. Often times when we speak of fairness, we speak in terms of equality – making everything equal parts. But this passage points to a fairness of having basic necessities for survival and well-being. We do not need cookie cutter homes or identical jobs. But we each need a place to call home and enough income to live on.
How do we reach such a place? In Corinthians, it is via community, willingness, and trust in God. Communities are encouraged to support one another and to share what they have. No doubt this takes hard work and demands sacrifice. And even though it may feel an insurmountable challenge, as Christians abiding in Christ, we know that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength and makes all things possible.
Perhaps the next step lays closer than we think. We are a community of churches. We are a community of faith. As people practiced in placing our trust in God, maybe we need only be willing. Willing to pray, listen, engage in conversation, and watch for opportunities to arise.