This morning I was teaching Abi about worship. We’ve taken her to church, and listened to christian music before, but I’d never really talked to her about what it means to worship, and what can happen during worship. After we drop Jacob off at preschool, Abi and I have about 15 minutes together in the car to just hang out while we wait for her school’s bell to ring. So I put on Abi’s two favorite worship songs:
Both of these songs are gorgeous and they’re both on the adoption playlist. I put them on the radio as we sat in the carpool line and I told her to really listen to the words and just feel at peace. I told her if she felt like she wanted to sing along, to go ahead. So we sat there, being weird, closing our eyes and just listening to someone sing about a God that a lot of people believe is totally made up. I told her to just to listen and expect. I was just sure that God would come down and give Abi this wonderful revelation as she sat and felt his presence in our Kia Sedona.
Turns out, there was a wonderful revelation. But instead of giving it to Abi, he gave it to me…long after the bell had rung and I was on my way to dog sit for someone on the other side of town.
I had put the second song, You are on our side, on repeat and suddenly I noticed the lyrics. Like, really noticed them. Particularly the chorus.
“And you sit at the table, with the wounded and the poor. You laugh and share stories with the thief and the whore.”
I had heard this line before, but this time I actually pondered it. As I was driving, I thought (for once) about what that really meant and what that really looked like. As I did, goosebumps broke out over my neck and down my arms. I swear I could feel the hairs standing up on my neck. It’s like God said- listen. This is what I expect from those who love me.
It’s funny, because most Christians know that Jesus had dinner with drunks, hung out with the “bottom rung” of people, had prostitutes following him around, healed on what religious people call “holy days,” when you weren’t supposed to do anything. Jesus did a lot of stuff that religious people hated…but not just religious people. He hung out with society’s misfits. He hung out with people that would make most of us uncomfortable. But that’s what Jesus did.
I guess I had never considered whether or not I would be willing to do the same thing. We all like to think that, Christian or not, we are open minded people that don’t have these Downton Abbey hang ups about people. But as I listened to the words, over and over again, I realized something. I do.
Think about it. Envision what it would be like today. I’m not asking if you’d do this as a “ministry.” I’m asking you this- would you feel not only comfortable, but excited and happy about inviting a prostitute into your house? What about someone who just got out on probation, who just a few weeks ago had been convicted of stealing? Would you hide your things before they came over? Would you worry about the fact that the prostitute is involved with pimps, and other dangerous underworld characters, and that she might bring some with her to your doorstep? Would you feel uncomfortable with having a still-strung-out addict at your table? And the poor. Those people you see living under underpasses in Atlanta, and other cities. The ones most people claim are just drunks, unable to hold down a job. Would you open your door for them, and not only feed them- but treat them as an honored guest? Despite the smell? Despite their unpredictable behavior? Would you?
We often like to go and “minister” to these people where they are. That’s a lot more comfortable. That’s safe. We leave our bubble, where most people have automatic doors on their cars, and we travel to the “bad side of town.” We bring them a hot meal as they are still lying on the street, then we jump back in our car, lock the doors, and high tail it out of there. We pat ourselves on the back and say…I just shared God’s love with someone. But did you? You served them, which is wonderful- but did you effectively share God’s love?
Imagine you are in a neighborhood and you are homeless, hungry and looking for something to eat. It’s freezing outside, so you bundle up and trudge along to the sound of doors locking and garage doors closing. As you roam the streets, you notice people staring at you from their beveled glass windows. No one comes out. Finally, someone turns on their porch light and walks down their driveway towards you. The person smiles at you and you hold your hand out, grateful that someone is generous enough to give you something to eat or money to get your next meal. But imagine that they don’t just drop money into your hand. They have a blanket, but they don’t just give it to you. They wrap it around your shoulders. They don’t just offer you money for a meal, but they ask if you’d like to join them for dinner. When they bring you inside, they don’t ask you to take off your shoes or go to the bathroom to clean up. The family smiles as they see you. YOU! In your smelly clothes and with your dirty body. They accept you exactly as you are, and you are a mess. And they don’t just share a meal with you- they laugh and share stories with you. You become like a part of the family. Do you feel that? That’s God’s love, being expressed by the actions and in the hearts of strangers.
This is the revelation that I had. That we need need to be willing to take it that far. Because that sounds extreme, right? That sounds dangerous to us and our families. That sounds like a little much.
But God is begging for us to be willing to say yes. No, he might not ask you to do that. But would you? Would you, really? Right now, I would not happily do that , if I’m honest. That’s why God didn’t given Abi that revelation- who, in her sweet child’s heart, wouldn’t see a “homeless man,” but only a man who needs a home. She would happily invite him in. He gave it to me , because I’m the one who needs it. If you ask God to change your heart and break it for the things that break his, He will. He also might ask you to do things that most people consider extreme, or even dangerous. Or maybe just uncomfortable. God, I want to be willing to do it. Make me uncomfortable if it makes someone else feel your love. If it makes them give that made-up God a chance, then yeah. I want to say yes.