Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world — what is viewed as nothing — to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence. I Corinthians 1: 26-29
Down the street from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is, I think, a Mobile Station. I have not been there in about 21 years, so my memory may be a bit off. That gas station was pretty popular with a few of my friends. I asked one of those friends why he liked that station so much. It looked a bit dumpy, and the prices weren’t any different from anyone elses’. My friend, also named David, told me to just go and get a tank of gas, I’ll find out.
Eventually, I did.
Back then, we still had the option of full service or self service. I chose self service. While I was fueling up my car, this ragged looking guy walks up and offers to clean my windshield. I told him I had it, but thank you. He looked at his feet for a minute, then insisted he wash my windshield. The areas surrounding the Seminary, at that time, were known for having less than savory individuals. I didn’t want any complications, so I let him.
As he cleaned my windshield, I could hear him mumbling under his breath. I assumed, by his ragged dress and missing teeth, and mumbling, that he might be going through the DT’s. Getting off booze can be very hard.
I watched him like a hawk. I wasn’t sure what this crazy guy might do next. But he WAS doing a beautiful job on my windshield, rear windows, side windows, headlights, and anything else he could find to shine. The owner of the gas station just sat there and watched. I wasn’t sure what was going on, and I sure didn’t want any trouble. After I paid for my gas, I decided I might give him a couple of dollars, even though I was concerned that this poor lost soul would just take it and get some cheap wine and get drunk again.
As I handed him the money, I said in my best preacher voice, “Here you go Mister, and may God bless you.” The old guy looked at me and grinned a real toothless grin. He said, “your’e one of them seminary boys.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. He wasn’t copping an attitude at me, either. He was just looking at me as if I were the unfortunate one. I saw genuine pity and love in his eyes. I was confused. I looked at the station owner. He was just sitting there grinning at me.
I told the crazy man that, “Yes, I go to the Seminary.” He wanted to know what I was learning there. I tried to go easy on him, but, in my perverse ego, I wanted to impress this obviously homeless man in a way that he would ask me about Jesus.
I regaled him with the best the seminary taught me.
He told me that I should feel good that I have learned so may things. Then he started asking me all kinds of questions about the scriptures. Questions I thought I knew the answers to, but discovered I didn’t. He was very graceful with me as he told me that it is OK to fill my head with all “them idears” about things, but it is useless if I want to really help people.
After that, I got an old fashioned schooling on the scriptures. He tied all the prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament to the fulfillment in the New Testament. He showed me how it is possible that the son of God can be God and Man simultaneously. And if I hadn’t already been saved, I would have gotten on my knees right then and confessed all my sin again.
It turns out that this guy DID used to be an alcoholic. He was also illiterate. He did not complete elementary school. He was considered “Stupid” by the Public Schools. Back in His day, teachers were allowed to call things just as they saw them.
He told me he couldn’t read or write, or drive, or hold down a job. The gas station owner gave this guy money for cleaning windows, changing oil, etc.
I asked him how he knew so much about the Scriptures. He said he had memorized the entire Bible just by listening to it on tape. And the more He listened, the more he understood. And the more he understood, the more God revealed. He was saved by hearing the word.
I made several trips to that station during that semester. It was usually when I went for a jog or bike riding. I would stop there and listen to him talk.
I learned so much from him. I almost went back to the Seminary Registrars office to ask for a refund. What I was learning from Him was exactly why I went to seminary.
I judged this man out of his appearance. I could tell just by the way he behaved that he was uneducated, slightly crazy, and homeless. What I didn’t know was, he was one of Jesus own disciples. I was embarrassed at myself for the way I treated him, and by the way I had judged him. I was supposed to be the Bible Scholar. But I learned more from the Scriptures that semester than I did at Seminary.
He was gentle, humble, had a great sense of humor, and did not consider his earthly circumstances anything to be ashamed of. He actually felt sorry for all us preachers who don’t understand the value of being willing to give up everything just to follow Christ.
That stung a bit. In fact, even though he was being loving and gentle and kind to me (It was obvious I was the ignorant one in the crowd), some of his words to me stung. Especially when he said he doubts many of the students at the seminary would follow Jesus if it meant being a laughingstock, or being absolutely broke, or having to lose everything we owned just for the sake of the gospel.
He was not trying to be mean or judgmental, he was just describing to me what he clearly saw, that I didn’t see. He was not trying to condemn me, or scold me. He was attempting to get me to see things the way Christ saw things. All that man knew was the Word of God. And he actually lived it every day.
This man was not popular, and was considered a bit crazy. But He embodied the fact that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
All He was doing was telling me what the word said. He was not giving his opinion of the word, either. He made it clear that he wouldn’t do that. But for every question I had, he knew where to find the answer in the word of God. It was obvious that he was a chosen one.
So, here’s the deal. It isn’t about how popular you are, or how many people “Like” you on FB, or on your blog. It isn’t about making people “Warm and Fuzzy”. It isn’t about “Telling others what to do”, either. It is simply about knowing the word, and being just like Jesus. That is exactly what this man did. He had absolute faith in God, absolutely knew and understood the word, and, just like Jesus, gave us what we needed to hear in order to teach us, convict us, and lead us to a better understanding of what it means to be saved.
This is a lesson I have had difficulty learning. My ego is putting up a fight with my calling. I want to get “Liked” on FB, I want to be popular. I want to have a million “Friends”.
Locally, a relationship is what it takes to get people to see what it means to be a Christian. But I cannot have a cup of coffee with everyone on this planet. I have a love for people that I never knew was possible. It is Christ who put that in me.
My calling , for now, is to write. I am to write about what I learned as I come back to Christ. Much of what I write is uncomfortable even for me. But, just as this crazy old homeless man tried to drive through my thick skull, it isn’t about being popular. It is about telling the truth. Those who have an ear for the truth will hear it. Those who just want their ears tickled, or want to make God in an image that is not God, will be disappointed.
I have to remember, it is not about me. I have to get out of the way. It is about the message.
That message is that God loved you so much that He gave us Jesus to die for our sin. Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God. He took on our sin, all of it. He took on our sickness, all of it, he took on the wrath and judgement of God, all of it, so we will not have to at the day of judgement.
If you have accepted this free gift, you are saved. If you believe with all your heart that Jesus died for your sin, and confess with your mouth that He rose again on the third day to prove he is lord of death and life, then you are saved.
Furthermore, if you want to follow Christ, you must die to yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Him.
This is not warm and fuzzy. You will become unpopular as you tell this message to people. You will lose friends. You will get fewer and fewer likes on FaceBook. Your words will offend people.
I am not telling you what to do. If it were up to me, things would be different. But there is a reason it is called Discipleship. In God’s army, the first thing a warrior learns is to surrender to the will of God, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
You cannot serve God and yourself. You have to be willing to give up all of yourself and be remade into the image of Christ. Daily.
God gave us common sense. It is good for dealing with life in the natural. But common sense never discovered God. If it could, Jesus would never had to come here and die. The things of God are understood by the supernatural work of God, because of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. If you are trying common sense to make sense of the Bible, you have missed more than half of what Christ has said.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.“ Matt. 16:24 NASB
Let’s Be About It.