I was just minding my own business on State Street.
Enjoying lunch with a former player I had coached in soccer. Matthew was in his senior year at Westmont as the starting goalkeeper. I could not be more proud of his athletic accomplishments, spiritual maturity and emotional depth. As we finished our salads, a woman approached me and asked about my t-shirt. Dumbfounded, I realized I was flying the shirt from our church’s mission trip to Puerto Escondido. It’s a bold shirt, yet very cool.
My new friend was probably a product of the 60’s. Perhaps attended UCSB. Get the picture? I told her that King’s Harbor was a church.
“A Christian church,” I responded. (Never quite sure how to answer that one.)
And before I could get another word out of my mouth, she shrieked (really), “YOU’RE A SURFER, WHO LOVES JESUS AND HATES ABORTIONS!”
I started to say something. Although I admit I hadn’t formed any words yet. But to no avail, as she covered her ears and began running down the street. As if anything I could say in return would harm her.
Matthew just started laughing. “It’s State Street, don’t forget.”
But as I dropped Matthew back off at Westmont, I couldn’t shake the woman’s reaction. Is that how everyone sees Christians? In the heat of the current culture wars, isn’t there another way?
Everyone loved Jesus in His days. Everyone but the self-righteous. My guess is that my friend on State thought I was the self-righteous one.
I also pondered an imaginary conversation we would have had. Instinctively I wanted to say, “No. I’m not.”
But… yes, I was.
I am a surfer who loves Jesus and hates abortions.
But I still wanted to yell back as she fled: “Come back! I’m not who you think I am!”
I wanted to tell her that I have compassion on both sides of the abortion debate. I wanted to tell her about how Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman, that no one else even acknowledged. I longed to share the story of Jesus rescuing a woman on the verge of execution by the religious leaders of the day. To open the pages of the Gospels to share about a woman who was bleeding to death, and who reached out to Jesus.
Who was known to be the guest of sinners.
It’s been a while since I have been invited to someone’s house who didn’t love Jesus.
So this occurrence on State Street has me thinking. Can I live in such a way that glorifies God, depends on the Holy Spirit and attracts the attention of folks who need a Savior?
Let’s hope so. I believe this is the Great Commission in its essence.