Recently I’ve had several people say something to the effect of, “you’re working in a place that Jesus is really needed.” or, “You’re really showing Jesus to people who are in extreme need of Him.” People have said similar statements to me since committing to this work, but lately it’s been causing me to feel some dissonance.
I don’t disagree. Jesus is needed on the streets. Jesus is what will provide the genuine, deep, long-term transformation for people rebuilding lives.
I do disagree with the idea that Jesus is needed more on the streets than he is in the suburbs, or in our churches. Jesus is needed equally in all places at all times. Without Jesus, we all are in the same place, and with Jesus we are in the same place. Jesus is the great equalizer. Jesus, is already present on the streets, just as he is already present in the church in the suburbs and everywhere in between.
As we spend time on the streets, we do hope we present a clearly loving picture of Jesus to our friends, but the awesome part about doing life with our friends that are on the streets is that I have been shown Jesus by them. Jesus is active in the lives of our friends. He loves them deeply. Some have experienced Him in a deep, transformational way–others haven’t yet. Some are journeying towards him, and some are running away. Some don’t think they’re good enough for Jesus, others take His grace for granted.
Everything said in the previous paragraph describes every social setting I’ve been in–church, college, work environments. In every area of life, we are called to present a clearly loving picture of Jesus to those around us. And in every area of life there are people that show me Jesus–there are people that have experienced Jesus’ love. Everywhere I go there are people that either journeying towards Jesus, or running from Him. In every life situation there are people that think they need to “fix” themselves before they encounter Jesus, and others that cheapen the grace He has for us.
Until we realize all people’s equal need for Jesus, we cannot fully love others. If we create a tiered system of people’s need for Jesus, or a list of qualifying qualities that determine the amount of forgiveness needed, we cease to love as Jesus did. Jesus love comes with out qualification or reservation–from homeless individual, to banker, to stay-at-home mom; from drug addict to minister to lazy teenager; from child to elder to middle-aged; from Asian to Central American to African. Jesus’ love knows no bounds–the streets of Denver are where we have chosen to both live out that love and experience that love.
We hope that we can love our friends on the streets just as much as we love a banker that we walk by in downtown Denver. We pray that we are able to love as Jesus did–with out reservation or qualification, in every encounter throughout our day.