Today at church towards the end of the second service, I was standing in the hall just waiting. Somehow me and a couple of guys were talking about this one particular guy that comes to our church. His name is Ron and he is homeless and an alcoholic. He has a “corner business” at the end of the street. He comes fairly consistently and has not asked for a dollar (that I have seen) from anyone that comes. He is quite loud and at this point am unsure if it is his personality or drunkenness. If you stand more than a few feet from him you just might become intoxicated by osmosis.
He started coming as another church merged in with ours. Some of us guys have unofficially taken turns sitting with him to tap him on the leg/shoulder when he is getting loud again. He has mellowed down quite a bit over the time and even though he is “less” disruptive, he is still disruptive. What I mean is that (besides the odor) he has this really loud voice and really loud clap … a clap that sometimes is on beat to the music, but mostly just loud – like sonic boom loud. If you are in Marion County on Sundays around 9:15am and hear thunder, but see no clouds … it’s Ron.
At first I was pretty much like “we have to do something about this guy”. But, like stated earlier, some guys were spending time with him. Then I was thinking how “cool” it was that we had a homeless guy coming to church. And how we’re “loving” him and not kicking him out. But today, in that conversation, at the end of the 2nd service, standing in the hallway – it came up that we really weren’t loving him. We were tolerating him … at best, but not loving him.
In our day and age it’s easy to think we love someone if we tolerate them. It’s almost like our value of what a human is, is based on their toleration of people. As if to say “oh look how much I am good by the amount of tolerance I portray”. But sometimes, people plain need to be smacked in the head. Ron is an alcoholic. If I just quietly (maybe even smuggly) sit next to him to quiet him down, what good is that doing him? It might show him that I can stand to be around him, but is that what he needs? Or does he need to get away from his addiction to alcohol? Ultimately, it is safe to say he needs to surrender his entire life over to Jesus … and whether he is a believer in Jesus and needing to be rid of this kind of bondage, or a non-believer needing to come to faith in Jesus for deliverance … he simply needs Jesus and the power over sin that He provides.
I imagine the “tolerance” people that read this post might be offended at that, but hey … tolerate it or be hypocritical.
What can Jesus do with a drunk? A lot. What can Jesus do with me? A lot. What does Ron need most right now? He doesn’t need a tolerant, friendly hand. He needs to come face to face with the biggest road block in his life … his addiction. I was too tolerant to give a damn. I was playing nice, but not loving. What did it take to get to Ron today? It took someone willing to confront him. Was Ron offended, noticeably! Will the conversation change his life? The conversation won’t, but quite possibly the thoughts from it might bring him to the point of needing he needs to stop sinning. (He was asked in our conversation with him if he wanted to stop … and after verbally dancing around the issue, he said he just didn’t want to change). I was standing there the whole time thinking, these are the right words to say to him (what one of the guys was saying in the group that is), but they were words I wouldn’t have cared enough to speak to him.
I am thankful for the brave one who cared enough to love.
I am a bit shamed at myself that I didn’t.
Lord, may I not be afraid to love … I am so glad you weren’t.