Did you ever meet a person who you thought lived the way Jesus would have wanted us all to live?
No, I don’t mean preachers or evangelists – I mean everyday people like you and me. It is not the job or calling, it’s the person. It’s the person who will go the ‘second mile’ without complaining, but smiling and happy to be of service. I’ve known many people who will go out of their way to be of some service, and I have on occasion as well, but I always wonder if it is to earn points with God.
This is especially true around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I admit to looking in the mirror and asking myself if my intentions were entirely pure. Sad to say, I usually answer no. All too often we find ourselves trying to earn our way to heaven rather than simply accepting His grace. I’d like to tell you the story of Joe.
Joe was a drunk who was miraculously converted at a Bowery mission. Prior to his conversion, he had gained the reputation of being a dirty wino for which there was no hope, only a miserable existence in the ghetto. But following his conversion to a new life in Christ, everything changed.
Joe became the most caring person that anyone associated with the mission had ever known. Joe spent his days and nights hanging out at the mission, doing whatever needed to be done.
There was never anything that he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up the vomit left by some violently sick alcoholic or scrubbing toilets after careless men left the men’s room filthy, Joe did what was asked with a smile on his face and seeming gratitude for the chance to help. He could be counted on to feed feeble men, who wandered off the street and into the mission, and to undress and tuck into bed men who were too out of it to take care of themselves.
One evening, when the director of the mission was delivering his evening evangelistic message to the usual crowd of still and sullen men with drooped heads, there was one man who looked up, came down the aisle to the alter and knelt to pray, crying out to God to help him change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, “Oh God! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!”
The director of the mission leaned over and said to the man “Son, I think it would be better if you prayed, ‘Make me like Jesus.’”
The man looked up at the director with a quizzical expression on his face and asked, “Is he like Joe?”
Did Joe have a special light in his eyes? Was he clean and well dressed like most middle class citizens? I really doubt it – Joe was still Joe.
I remember back in college, I had to pick up a friend at the hospital after a minor surgery. It was Sunday morning and as he pulled on his jeans, said we should go on to church. “But you’re not dressed for church,” I replied. To which he simply said, “It is more important to be there than to be concerned with what we wear!”
Over the years I’ve learned that the greatest sermon we can ever preach is not spoken – It is LIVED!