Monday, August 11, 2008

Awkward Jesus

One night I was hanging out with some friends and two of them who were dating were arguing outside and we could here EVERYTHING. So they walk into the house and go upstairs to continue to talk. I look at one of my friends and he grins, tilts his head and squeaks out, “Awkward!” It was a like a bad ventriloquist was trying to make his puppet say awkward. It was hilarious and has become a classical funny moment thing to do when we are around each other.

I was walking down the street after leaving my local coffee shop and saw a head full of hair, a guitar case, and a bag full of things. I stopped and thought, “I know that hair, I know that guitar…” So I say, “Hey man, how’s it going?” This guy named Brad has been coming to Indy Metro off and on since the beginning. When my friend Matt & I met him we referred to him as AC/DC because he runs around downtown with his electric guitar on his back, old school leather jacket, and long hair, he is the essence of what it means to be in a hair band in the 80’s. He is a homeless guy that is always downtown. Living in the city you learn their names and frequent the same place s a lot, you cross paths a ton and eventually you come on a first name basis with them. Well, I knew his name was Brad so I said, “Hey man, how’s it going?”

The thing I love about people who are oppressed is that they never tell you what you want to hear, they tell you how they are, genuinely, they tell you how it is and don’t reply as if it is a rhetorical question. So he says that everything sucks and he really feels down. He goes on to explain how the coffee shop I love so much won’t allow him to come in a buy a coffee. So he gives me 2 dollars and asks if I will go buy coffee for him. Of course I do and tell him to keep his money. I bring his coffee back to him and he says, “Man, you’re the coolest, you efen rock.” I take those comments as a compliment. So I’m really torn up by seeing how people have made this guy (a creation that God loves just as much as the wealthy Christian) feel like dirt so I ask if I can pray with Him. Typically not what happens in the American Christian world, we typically say, I’ll pray for you,” go home and never make good on this offer. As weird as it felt on a Wed night to sit down on a bench with this guy that smelled not great and pray I decided it would be exactly what Jesus would want me to do. So as I prayed I poured my heart out for this man and begged God to allow him to feel affirmed by Him and know that He loves him. We open our eyes and lift our heads to live Jazz music and the smell of alcohol (Chatter box is across the street from where we were sitting) and for some reason it all seemed refreshing. “Hey man, you have a bible I can have?” I nervously think quickly of what to say because I do have my bible in my backpack but it is mine and has all my notes in it and I really don’t want to give this one away, so I respond, “You know, I live up the street and you can come over and get it.” He agrees and we march on to my apartment and on the way I realize that I have mad an entire crock pot full of chicken alfredo, so I offer him to come in and eat dinner with us (my roommate and I).

I serve him a bowl of food and bottled water and we talk for like an hour about Jesus, the bible, and how his life is going. After I was done eating (I’m always last because I eat slow) I stand up and saw, “Well man, I’m going to grab a shower, you want me to walk you out?” Silence…I wait for a bit and more silence… He looks up at me and asks if he can stay over. I look at Zach in the kitchen and he just shrugs. Yes. I said yes, can you believe it? So I say yes, allow him to get a shower and then we stay up like 3 more hours talking about Psalms he loves and what part of the bible he has been reading. I wake up the next morning after only a couple hours of rest (I stayed up after I went to my room just praising God for the opportunity to serve someone that probably looks and smells a lot like Jesus did) I get up to go to work and wake him up. I grab some breakfast and give him water and a couple pair of socks (the homeless need socks, so next time you go out and give them dry peanut butter sandwiches take some nice clean socks too).

After all this I can only think of one thing..

So I grin, tilt my head, and look too the sky and squeak out a long “Aaaaaaaaaaaawkward!”

What an awkward night, what an awkward exchange of lives, what an awkward thing to have a complete stranger sleep on my couch. Awkward but beautiful I say. The entire time, from walking from the coffee shop, praying with him on the bench, walking to my apartment, talking until late night, and waking up in the morning, all I could think about was this, “'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Often times we get so caught up in being Jesus to people, showing His love and such, but we miss out on the simple truth that maybe we are in the presence of Jesus the whole time. By doing the little bit God allowed me to do, to serve this man, I felt closer to Jesus than I do reading a daily devotional. Maybe this is because living the life Jesus calls us to live is a little awkward, it is uncomfortable, and requires a totally different way of thinking, a thought process that sees smelly, 80’s hair band dudes as people and not just bums, eyes that see pain injustice instead of cultural norms, ears that hear pain instead of an empty prayer request, and lives that stop, slow down enough to get involved in some awkward situations that bring the kingdom of God crashing down on a simple bench on a downtown corner somewhere.

Awkward is a beautiful thing in the kingdom of God. May you seek to see His kingdom here, may you seek to have these awkward moments, because in these moments, black and white words in an old book come alive and breathe. And that my friends is the way it should be isn’t it?

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