Friday, November 5, 2010

I think I saw Jesus at the homeless shelter last week

Let me start by saying that I am not a born-again religious zealot.

This is especially for those who have known me for most of my life...those folks I grew up with in Slowtown.

But I do like Jesus.  A lot.

Before you click away from this blog post because maybe you don't like Jesus, or care about Jesus or think the way I love Jesus is too different and "wrong" then the way you love Jesus, give me a minute.

Believe.  Or don't believe.  I love you either way.

The thoughts I want to write about today go beyond just liking Jesus.  Being Christian.  Or being religious at all.

Remember this song from the 1980's?  Bruce Hornsby and Range:  The Way It Is
and these lyrics:
Standing in line marking time, waiting for the welfare dime

'Cause they can't buy a job
The man in the silk suit hurries by as he catches the poor ladies' eyes
Just for fun he says "get a job"

I saw some folks last week in "that" line.  Folks that don't have jobs.  Or cars.  Or clean underwear.
"They don't even have a pot to pee in" as my mother would say.  Literally.
Folks like this man I saw sleeping on the ground in Montreal. 

This very moment, a week ago, I was "in line" with those folks at the Kansas City Rescue Mission.  Yep, a men's homeless shelter.  I had been invited to a "graduation" of sorts.

The graduation was two homeless men who had just completed their 6 month addiction recovery program offered by the shelter.  One was a tiny white man named Eric.  The other was a huge black man named Kip.  They were "brothers" as Kip said.  Brothers in their addictions and brothers in their sobriety.  "I won't believe you will be an addict again" said Kip to Eric. 

Isn't that cool?  Someone who believes in you that much.  That is how much homeless Kip believes in homeless Eric.  He believes SO much that he WON'T believe it. 

I like friends like that.  A friend, like Saudi Arabia, that tells you that you have bombs on your American soil. 

A friend who has your back. 

A friend that won't believe it.  I have some of those friends.  You know who you are.

No doubt that all 40 of those men, sitting there in that small chapel, have been to the end of their rope.  They have gone to hell--real hell--some of which have come back and some have not made it back quite yet.  As one newby said, "I am here now because I am finally open-minded enough to watch you."  He is in his personal hell now, only looking from across the shore to those who have traversed their way to higher ground.

(this is not Eric)
Eric didn't say much.  He was a tiny man, with nicely pressed slacks and shaky notecards in his shaky hand when he got up to say some remarks.  One amazing fact about him:  even when he was homeless and living on the streets for that 1 1/2 years, he still volunteered his time to the Humane Society.  Can you believe that?
The residents there said that Eric was a "friend of God's." 

I go to church every Sunday and I don't know if I can say that about myself.

Kip was the opposite personality.  He was smiling, and spoke like a fully ordained minister.  He made me want to believe in whatever he was selling. 

I don't know these people.  Didn't matter.  I don't need to. 

Which brings me to what I think Jesus might think about these guys.

The bottom line is that I think Jesus loves them. 
I think Kip said it best.  "God is using us even in the midst of being broken."

The current president of the LDS Church, Thomas Monson, said some things recently that I have given a lot of thought about in regards to these men. 

 "Charity...impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate and merciful...
[even] in times of weakness or error on the part of others. 
It is accepting people as they truly are.  It is looking beyond
physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. 
 It is resisting the impulse to categorize others."

How did I find myself in a better place?

I guess to me, the bottom line isn't just what I think Jesus thinks or what I think He wants me to do.  The bottom line is that I am a fellow sojourner in this life.  The bottom line is that in the end, it is none of my business that Kip was snorting coke in a hotel room six months ago.  That piece shouldn't and doesn't matter to me.

The bottom line is that I not called to save or fix these people.  As I have heard, "They have a Saviour and it's not me."

The bottom line to me is I believe that I am called to love them. 
That's it.  Just plain old love.

I heard this song once and it instantly become one of my all time favorites.  I think you will like it.
It is called Face of Christ--by Chris Rice.