Let me tell you a true story. All names of people involved have been changed.
For many years we’ve been meeting on Sunday mornings in a run-down estate in Northampton’s eastern district. We’ve got to know many characters, and a few have crossed the line into faith in Jesus and become a part of us.
One man of the estate in particular (who we’ll call ‘Sir’) has become a staunch friend of ours. We first met him as a young teenager when he made a hobby of repeatedly wheelying his bmx through our meeting room in the middle of worship time. He lives in the thick of a crazy, hedonistic and generally effed-up life, and he takes no beef from any man. He’s the local ‘pharmacist’ of illegal substances, and also a prize fighter. Just say the words “I know Sir” to anyone on that estate and they’ll immediately adopt hushed tones and let you pass unmugged! Get the picture?
It was Sir’s 21st birthday on Saturday night. Two friends of mine (let’s call them James and John) rang him up and announced they were popping round to see him. They turned up at Sir’s house, and he got into the car, joined by a couple of friends, and my friends James and John took them all to a Chinese restaurant.
In the car John complimented Sir on his shiny Nike Airmax trainers, to which Sir offered “I’ve got five pairs of these back at home, I can give you a pair init?”
Soon after their spring rolls they left in the car to meet up with some more of Sir’s friends back in the estate. Stopping in a cul-de sac a crowd gathered around the car, all congratulating Sir for his 21st birthday. One older and slightly drunk chap, however, started jeering. “Sir” he whined, “what are you doing sitting in a Jesus Army car?” A verbal tussle ensued.
Sir: “So what if I am?”
Friend: “It’s just that surely you should have grown out of that ten years ago!”
Sir: “So what? So what if my friend’s in the Jesus Army?”
‘Sir’ was getting quite agitated by now. One of ‘his’ crew was dissing the Jesus Army.
Friend: “Erm, well if you’re in the Jesus Army, aren’t you supposed to be calming down right now?!”
Sir: “Somebody take him away, somebody take him away, I swear down I’ll do him!”
So there you go. James told me the story late last night, enthusing about how this feared and despised man has warmed to us, and in turn, is warming to Jesus. I reckon he’s just the sort of person Jesus spent his time with. Makes it all worthwhile, don’t you think?