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Renting for the Glory of God

(By Jeanine Camacho)
Yesterday, one of our pastors leveled with us on a key hindrance to staying and representing Christ here in the Bay Area-- cost of living. San Jose is the most unaffordable place in the nation to buy a house, and that can be a discouraging reality for many who want to provide for their families in a secure and generous way. Desiring home ownership can be a good desire, but here in the South Bay our circumstances force us to face a difficult reality: staying here may not equal owning a home. What is a Christian to do when faced with that decision?
On Sunday, Pastor Eric exhorted us in a few helpful directions. First, we need to look at our lives not merely from an earthly vantage point, but instead from the view of heaven, down. This was his point: if the Bay Area is the most 1) diverse and 2) unchurched area of the United States, that means that the spiritual opportunity for the kingdom of God here is ENORMOUS, and this kind of opportunity should play a role for us Christians in our decision to stay or leave. Is God calling me to sacrifice something like home ownership so that I can share Christ with the 98% of my neighbors who don’t yet know Him? What if we started thinking of the Bay Area as a missionary outpost rather than “just another city”? Maybe He is calling you to do that— He has called many others to do the same.
So, if I want to live for Christ in San Jose but am discouraged by the idea of not owning a house (which you probably won’t if you make under $250k per year), how should I think about that potential reality?
Well, that is a big conversation which deserves long conversations with the wise, Christ-loving people in your life, but for today let me encourage you with some of my own personal lessons, learned over eleven years of renting in the Bay Area, on how long-term renting can serve Christ’s kingdom purposes!
  1. More freedom for other things- because my husband doesn’t have to spend his weekends fixing up our house or yard, we have more time for rest, ministry, and other cool things.
  2. Flexibility- yes I don’t get to choose the tile for my kitchen backsplash, but I also don’t have a mortgage that makes me stay in the same spot forever. If our needs change— like we feel called to move closer to the church or another neighborhood or want a pool so we can have teens over— we can do that!
  3. Weapon against materialism- Personally, I can see that if I owned a home I would be constantly tempted to think about changing the ___, improving the ___. Though renting doesn’t kill materialism, my unchangeable yellow bathroom tile is a continual reminder that I don’t need quartz counters to be happy.
  4. My home is in heaven- One day I am going to have a mansion here in the recreated earth (Matt. 5:50) but renting reminds me that my inheritance isn’t here yet. Just like Abraham (Heb. 11:8-10) I have a continual reminder that while my eternal city is coming, my job right now is to live as an ambassador for Christ. Renting reminds me that my true home is in heaven, and heaven is not here yet.
  5. Renting for the glory of God can display the worthiness of Christ to others- I have multiple unbelieving friends who have been shocked when I share that I don't mind renting forever. And that is when I get to share the worthiness of Christ— He has saved me, and He is so fulfilling and has given me such a wonderful purpose (to love and serve those around me), that I don’t mind not having other things in this life-- He really is enough!
I hope you are encouraged along with me that our success is not determined by brick and mortar! I know that our family’s rental situation is not for everybody-- renting is simply what God has placed in front of us here in the South Bay as we serve Him on this earth. But in an American culture that can overly value the financial dream of a house, two cars, etc… I hope you’re encouraged that there are other ways of thinking that can also glorify Christ and fulfill His mission, particularly in cities where the easier thing to do is book it out for more affordable pastures.
May Jesus Christ be lifted up in all cities, towns, and villages for the glory of God!
(Click here to listen to Pastor Eric's sermon)


Linda Peevyhouse - February 19th, 2022 at 9:05pm

What a breath of fresh air.

Natalie - August 4th, 2023 at 5:36pm

Love this so much! Our true home is in heaven. Whether buying or renting a home, all of it is temporary and belongs to the Lord. Renting can remind us of this truth in more obvious ways ❤️