Today I had a conversation with Bob (pseudonym) who asks for money on a corner near my apartment. He and I have established somewhat of a relationship over the past two months. Part of that relationship includes me getting food for him from time to time and us talking about Jesus. By this point he knows me well enough to say my name when we meet, ask me what I'm doing, and that I am praying he knows Jesus.
Bob is a smart man and extremely honest. He spends some of his time in the libraries around the city reading books on sociology and psychology and he has no shame telling me that if I were to give him money he would buy alcohol with it and that he doesn't really want to work because he can't give up drinking. In fact, he was in college, but dropped out because alcohol got the best of him. 30 years have passed since then--all on the streets. The addiction runs deep, but denial of it is not in Bob's vocabulary or demeanor. We have talked of freedom, not found in the system, but in Christ. However, like a job, Bob doesn't think he can give up alcohol for Him. I have tried to explain the beauty that we can never clean ourselves up in order to enter God's presence and know Christ. In fact, God does not even tell us to do that. We come as we are, sinners jacked up in countless ways, trusting that Jesus' blood washes us white as snow. His work, not ours. His glory, not ours. As I mentioned in the previous post, title to all our biographies should be "Sinners saved by grace."
This story may not resonate with anyone who reads this. Maybe for some, but for most you probably won't identify yourselves with Bob thinking there are no parallels in your lives with his. That may be the case situationally. You aren't on the streets; you aren't dealing with a serious addiction; you aren't alone in life. Instead you probably have a nice place to live, are eating well, and have plenty of friends. Life seems to be good. But that's where the relationship with Bob converges. He likes his life as it is. If you like it, why change it, right? But is it possible that people's lives here on earth can actually be content in shackles? Is freedom found in contentment or contentment found in freedom? For that matter how do we define freedom?
I end with questions as opposed to an answer because, like Bob, most people don't like the answer when the big questions are asked. I've given it before; I've given it here. The answer doesn't change, but the questions do remain.