Ever feel like you give God in all three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and their angels an eternity of laughter as they snicker and laugh hysterically while rolling around the universe at some great attempt to show you are a good person?
Are you like me? I want to do things right. I want to help, not harm. I want to maximize my efforts, turn a few loaves into many (Mark 6:38-43). I want to seem knowledgeable, efficient and professional. I research projects, (over) analyze data to make the “perfect” plan. I’m educated, spent years learning how to care for others.
While these traits offer career success, they are comical when applied to evangelism. Doubt God has a sense of humor, ask Balaam’s donkey.
In 1999, I started a job in downtown Baltimore. Like most major cities, Baltimore has beggars (gasp!). Now with the economy so bad, many are “legitimately” in need of money to feed their families but in 1999, times were good, so it was easy to assume they were all addicts or lazy bums.
As an experienced human services worker, I didn’t want to give money to addicts to buy drugs. Jesus commanded us to feed him:
“I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and visited me.” Matthew 25: 35-36
I want to be Jesus’ sheep (Matthew 25:30-46). I had to feed, quench and clothe Jesus. I didn’t want to be a nasty, greedy ole goat! I want to be generous. I want to hear those beautiful words at the end of my life, “Well done, good and faithful servant! …Come share your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21)
Being a sheep isn’t easy, nor is honestly blogging about being self-righteous, hypocritical and foolish. I want to be less judgmental, more noble. But…at the end of the day I am a Pharisee, tripping over my pious pedestal. Will I ever change?
Back to 1999: So I rationalized. Wish I heard scary music warning me I was moving away, not towards God. Why can’t I recognize Satan? He wraps his scary, creepy arms around my waist, feeds my intellect, guiding me down that slippery slope. Ahhhhh! Steps are never as much fun or quick as sliding boards. I’d be thinner if they were.
Satan agreed that Jesus didn’t tell me to “pay” money. I’m required to feed and clothe Jesus, not buy Jesus drugs. The Bible never says feed or clothe Satan! So how was I going to find Jesus among so many imposters?
Jesus couldn’t expect me to carry bags of food and clothes to and from work as well as during lunch breaks. Not practical! I’d look like a bag lady. Not professional. I needed a practical, pocket-size way to feed our Lord.
Thankfully McDonalds had the ‘perfect’ fix. After all they sell happy meals. Several books of $1 coupons redeemable only for food, no cash. They were pocket-size. I could carry them everywhere, feeding Jesus all over the city. Perfect!
Why didn’t God bless this wonderful ministry? I carried those coupons for several months. Not one single person came near me to beg (ask) for anything. In fact, the coupons were an insurance policy to keep the poor away. I never saw a poor person after I bought them. I looked hard for them because I was very proud of my great idea.
Finally after the coupons were so battered and almost unrecognizable, I gave up. I cashed them in for a family meal. And the next day went to McDonalds to spend the rest on my lunch. Jesus obviously wasn’t hungry or didn’t like McDonalds. I prayed (nagged) the whole way to McDonalds urging Jesus to bring forth a poor person before I spent the last of the coupons, but no one approached.
I bought my lunch, used cash to pay the balance and left with my change in hand. The moment I opened the door, a dirty man in battered clothes appeared, we made eye contact as he said, “Spare some change?” I stood there stunned, like a complete idiot, eyes wide, mouth open. That look gave way to my ‘How did you beat me?’ angry lunatic look. My face screamed ‘REALLY???’ as I looked him over head to toe. Jesus stood in front of me with a huge grin asking if I was going to feed him with my real American cash. And I did, I shoved all my change into his hands and grunted as he wished me a good day. I was not cheerful. It took a whole day, maybe longer to get over myself.
Eventually I laughed, not a pleasant laugh but I acknowledged I saw the humor in my ways. I also began to realize how I act like the other brother in the prodigal son or the workers called first in the parable of the vineyard – selfish, greedy and entitled. Also, judgmental and stingy. I fail to acknowledged everything including my hard-earned cash belongs to Jesus. It is a blessing, not an obligation to share. Amen
Fellow sheep, please share your thoughts and ways you feed Jesus – Baa!: