This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
My friend J. is a great example of making friends with and loving those who appear to be difficult to love. I’ve written about J. before in my posts “Pastor of a Restaurant?” and “stories: Gospel and community and pizza.”
J. works at a local Italian restaurant, and he’s become friends with many of his coworkers, even those that are (in his words) “a little rough.” They are not believers. He spends time with many of the young men, and even helps out when there are deaths or sicknesses in their families.
Recently, J. married R. He said that he was a little concerned about how she would handle his “rough” friends. He said they are the kind of friends who will come into the house without knocking.
He told the story of one young man who came into their house one afternoon after changing the oil in his car. As you can imagine his hands and clothes were covered in oil. When he came into the house, he left the door open and let in a few flies. R. was trying to kill the flies, and the young man decided to help. Instead, he left an oil streak smeared down the wall. R. thanked him for his help, then ushered him into their bathroom for a shower. J. said this is just the kind of love that this young man needed.
A few days later, the same young man and his girlfriend came to J. and R.’s house for a cookout. The girlfriend was just as rough as the young man, and her language was probably rougher. The young man told the girlfriend not to talk that way, because J. and R. were Christians. (Neither J. nor R. had ever told the young man to stop using certain words because they were Christians, so they were surprised.) The girlfriend became very quiet and withdrawn after the young man’s rebuke.
J. took the young man out back to finish grilling and left R. alone in the house with the girlfriend. By the time J. returned, R. had made the girl feel at home and welcomed. They were talking and laughing and enjoying one another’s company. When the young man and his girlfriend left that evening, the girlfriend hugged R. like that were longtime friends.
J. and R. are great examples of accepting and welcoming people into our homes who may be “rougher” than we would like. They are great examples of loving people and teaching them things they need to know (like when to take a shower). Plus, knowing J. and R., this young man and his girlfriend not only saw a great demonstrate of Jesus’ love and acceptance, they heard about Jesus as well.
If you would like for me to include your story in this series, please send me an email at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.