God’s working on my heart this morning, big time. These moments are not as frequent as I’d like them to be, so capturing them before they go away is helpful (even if it means putting aside other work that’s got a deadline).
I won’t get into the death of Osama thing for right now (that will come later). This morning I stepped into my favorite Monday morning spot, Starbucks, and was greeted by somebody.
Not the baristas. Not the middle-class friends sipping a latte before work. Not the would-be writer or computer programmer plotting how to spend his millions when he makes it big-time (of course he won’t log of facebook to get to it).
No. It was Mike. And Mike is a crazy homeless guy. I see him in here all the time. He sits by himself. And he talks to himself.
Very loudly. In off-the-wall conversations about conspiracy theories, religious debates and how he used to work for the CIA.
I’m not joking.
I see him in here almost every day. And I have successfully avoided him for a good 6 months now.
Until this morning.
He walks right up to me, and asks, “Hi, I’m Mike. Are you a bible teacher at Christ Church?”
You see he came over to the church the other week and asked if he could play our piano for a few minutes. We let him, and he played beautifully. He asked for 10 minutes, and played for 10 minutes.
He told me this morning how thankful he was that we would let him play, and that he was trying to make a demo tape to give to some booking agents around town to line up a gig or two.
He just came up to say “Thank you.”
Mike. The crazy conversation guy I’ve been avoiding without ever bothering to get to know him.
And then another homeless guy comes and sits down right in front of me. And he stinks. I mean really smells something awful.
But I look at him and see that he’s just trying to warm up a little before he goes back outside. He’s looking for some rest, and he gets it sitting at a small table in a Starbucks.
When I look at this guy, or when I hear Mike going off on how he can’t “wait to evaporate,” why do I think I’m better than either of these guys?
What makes me believe that I have it together and these guys don’t?
Why do I think I’m better just because I shower in the morning? Or observe public social conventions of not talking to myself except in hushed whispers?
In Jesus’ day, people like this guy in front of me, or Mike, would probably have been considered “unclean”.
People to avoid. To not get to know, or welcome into your life or home.
The reality is that I’m just as unclean, and worth-avoiding as these guys are. I just hide it on the inside whereas these guys let it all hang out. I dress it up with zip-neck sweaters and deoderant, or ear-phones and a laptop, but I am really no different, no better than these guys.
I am unclean – an untouchable – and I need someone to reach out to me just as much as these guys.
And that’s what Jesus does. Its what he did when he walked the earth 2,000 years ago. Its what he does now, by His Spirit.
He comes to the untouchables. He comes to the unclean. And he touches them. He makes them clean.
That’s the beauty of the gospel, that when Jesus comes to the mess of our lives and this world, He touches it, and makes it clean. He makes it beautiful. And how dare any of us call “unclean” that which Jesus makes “clean,” (Acts 11).
Thanks Mike for making my day today. You’ve reminded me of the gospel in a way I couldn’t have done without you.