Today I wants to share two wonderful stories from the streets of Austin. Both are true. Both are changed to protect confidentiality.
Person 1: Frank is a homeless man in his 30’s. He looks young for his age. He is a Christian. He is a recovering drug addict and clean. He works every day in a local restaurant. He is trying to save the money for a deposit to get into an apartment. He sleeps outside everyday in the doorway of a nearby church. Frank keeps everything he owns in a backup. Since he is working, he can afford to go to Target or Walmart and guy some things (like toiletries, clothing, etc.). It was recently stolen during the night while he slept.
Frank has a friend who is also homeless. This friend is in need of glasses. Frank has decided that he will spend his own money to get glasses for his friend. This is true generosity and brotherly love and concern. Wow! I explained to Frank how much I admire him.
Person 2: Robert is a homeless man in his 30’s, also. He it big and clean-cut. He is unChristian, to borrow the label of a recent book by David Kinnaman. He was raised in the church but found that he felt he did not belong there over time. Robert came to me to ask about Christianity once more. His questions were typical of unChristian attitudes for this age group today (see book). He asked: “How can God be all powerful, all knowing, and all loving, but still let everything go on as it does?” I explained that this is a very old question and proceeded to help him understand how much God loves his creations, but that his creation chose to separate itself from him through sin. We can be reunited with God again, and a relationship with Jesus is the way. Robert then went on to say that he had rejected Christianity. When I asked why, it was because of the Christians. I asked him to label Christians anyway he wants, but not to label Jesus and Christianity itself with the same labels. What are the labels.
Judgemental: Christians judge him and others. I explained that I do not believe it is my job as a Christian to judge non-Christians at all. I leave that between him and God. However, my job is to love him, just as he is.
Hypocritical: Christians seems to say they believe in one thing but do another. I explained, “EXACTLY!” We believe in the values of the Bible but we find we cannot uphold them. No one can. I told him that I do as many bad things in a day as he does. Robert couldn’t believe this. I told him it was true, although in his eyes there might be a scale difference. But in God’s eyes, there probably was no difference. However, I had a relationship with Jesus that restores me and makes me right with God. He could have that, too.
The inquiry went on for some time. It was a good start. Robert summed it up: “You know… if there were more Christians like you, maybe I would want to be a Christian.”
I am no saint. I am no different than other Christians, but I am willing to be transparent about judgement and falling short of the glory of God. I encourage all Christians to share this truly good news with unChristian inquirers.
Let’s open the doors of the churches and invite the unChristian in. Let’s not close and bar the doors!