Looking at the “before” photos, the appeal struck me immediately: full of music and art, a collective explosion of shared creativity. Even when taking refuge in a ramshackle old warehouse with no building materials but old palettes, people are made in God’s image and will strive to create that which is beautiful.
While Jesus was having dinner, many tax collectors and sinners were eating
with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
Reading about the people who lived there, so many were seeking a refuge. From whom? From the righteous of our day. From people who look just like me.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were
harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
In my opinion, it was the kind of place that Jesus would have been drawn to like a magnet.
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look at him!
A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”
If your heart is broken like mine, there is a lot you can do.
First, think about the plight of the poor. There are many charitable organizations dedicated to low-income housing that is safe. Especially if you live in an expensive area like California or New York, find one that aligns with your values and support it. Communities need diversity and people of all callings, yet many of those callings are not economically valued enough to pay particularly well.
The term “safe space” is much maligned nowadays, but the bottom line is we all crave acceptance and belonging, yet some of us are outcasts. People like that were drawn to Jesus, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not because he dropped the hammer on them, called them sinners, and condemned them to hell. They had plenty of that available to them already from the righteous and the pharisees; they can only have gone to Jesus for something else. Scripture bears this out, as all of his recorded encounters with such people are suffused with gentleness, blessing and grace.
One really good barometer of whether we are anything like Jesus is whether society’s lost and broken are equally drawn to us. Too often nowadays, the answer to that question is no. So if you lament that people are so far gone that they are willing to accept the many unsavory aspects of living in a dangerous old warehouse, instead of mocking their desire for a “safe place” they can feel accepted, why not become such a place yourself?
Come, you who are blessed by my Father… for I was a stranger and you invited me in.