Another mind blowing night at Offerings Holy Grounds Café last evening and another lesson from God to me. As the night was beginning my husband was in the gift shop talking and praying with one of our regular homeless men that we minister to. He was having a bad go of things and had been beaten up the night before. There wasn’t one spot on this man’s face that wasn’t bruised, swollen and bloody. It seems that the homeless that we minister to is some of the hardest to witness to. They are broken, at the bottom of a pit, living life for the second with little hope.
My husband puts him up front at a table and sets him up with coffee and a sandwich. The prayer starts and the music starts. The Offerings House Band had just learned a new song and it is one of my favorites by Trevor Morgan, Jesus rides the subway. So I stop what I’m doing and lean against the door way as I am deeply reflecting the lyrics that Steve is singing. Here are some of the words that are in this tremendous song, “Jesus rides the subway with the junkies and the freaks. Jesus rides the subway with the hustlers and the creeps. He rubs shoulders with the thieves and he looks a lot like everyone he sees. Jesus rides the subway while the pretty people sleep. He says, You can lay your burden down. You can lay your burden down. Oh, maybe you’ve been kicked around. But you can lay your burden down. Jesus strolls the sidewalk on the wrong side of the tracks. Yeah, Jesus strolls the sidewalk that poverty attacked. He makes his home among the shadows where the fatherless have fallen through the cracks. Jesus strolls the sidewalk while the righteous turn their backs.
By this time, as Steve goes into another chorus my mind is really soaking in these words as I am reflecting on the people that come into the café; the homeless, the devastatingly poor and just plain broken people. As he goes into the next verse which says, Jesus went to church on Sunday He sat in the back and sang the hymns. Jesus went to church on Sunday. They didn’t recognize him.
Wow, like a deep pain in my heart my thoughts are now, what would Jesus be doing with this man? I heard God in this still small voice say, “Jesus would go hug him”. What!!!! I stopped and I said, “No, God. No, please I don’t want to go hug this man.” Now, I hug people all the time but this one man in particular this night please no. So I start bartering with God by telling Him, “But God he is dirty, he is bloody, he reeks of alcohol and dirt. But God He has peed all over himself so the urine smell is too much.
As I am going through this process with God and not even going to make a move to go over and hug this man. This man walks up to me and thanks me and do you know what happens next. Yup, he reached out and gave me a hug.
This event spoke volumes to me. First, when God tells you to do something you better do it. God wasn’t giving me a choice He was giving me a command and I disobeyed but it was His plan for me to hug this man and He made it so.
Second, there has to be some form of pride still inside of me not to want to go reach out and hug this man. Why because I didn’t want to rub up against the dirt, I didn’t want to smell the stench. Who am I? I can stand and preach, I love these people and we need to be lovin’ on them and being Jesus to them. Then I turn right around when confronted with the extreme situation and I beg God not to make me to hug this man. Needless to say, God knew that when confronted with this I would not want to humble myself to reach out and physically hug this man. God knew I needed more humbling. Who am I?
As time goes by and we’ve been in the inner city for about a year and a half we’ve seen the poor, the homeless, the junkie, the thief, the prostitute, the dealer. To some extent we’ve reached out to them. We’ve also seen the believers, the disciples, the Christians who claim Jesus’ name and how they react and what they speak versus what they do. To be honest, I am tired of being polite. I am calling out each one of us to look deep inside our hearts and ask God to HUMBLE us more.
It’s time we start being Jesus’ image bearers and not His Sunday morning fakes. We need to get dirty; we need to get a little smell. We need to sit with the junkies and the freaks and love them like Jesus. We need more foot soldiers on the front lines. Friends, I encourage you to come to the inner city of Hamilton, Ohio to a little café ministry on Main Street and sit among the junkies and freaks and LOVE THEM LIKE JESUS!
We CAN rearrange our busy schedules to take time to love on people and SHOW them the way to break those chains of bondage, addiction or whatever their life controlling issue are. We CAN put ourselves and our want tos aside for the man that endured so much torture, humiliation and eventually death on the cross so that we can be FREE and be united with God again. Let’s stop spitting in Jesus face by putting everything else in front of Him!!!
I say this with so much love in my heart but I also say this for the Honor of my LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!!! HE deserves our BEST! HE deserves our ALL!!! HIS shed blood on Calvary should be all the motivation we need to humble ourselves and get down and dirty and just be all that we can be and do all we can do to reach the lost with the Gospel. We need to stop being hoarders, as my husband says. We need to put God boldly first! Come on!