It is hard not to notice the homeless people congregating in the park outside Jacksonville's public library. Some of them carrying their belongings in carts, or backpacks or simply wearing all they have. Many are in small groups talking waiting for the library to open. Some are talking to themselves, I guess, no cellphone in sight. Every once in a while I will a hear a person preaching to the congregation of homeless and others who happen to be in the park that day. Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand.
I was thinking about that as the preacher spoke on John the Baptist this week in church. The image she drew of John was so much like one of the homeless people I had seen the week before. What did people think of John? His strange diet, where he lived, his social isolation, his preaching which was not designed to draw followers but offend them. The preacher Sunday, who works with people with mental health issues, suggested that John may have had his own mental health issues. What? That was a new thought! My mind recoiled.
Why not, John? God had chosen some other people with issues before. Moses could have been sent to anger management. Any one of the Judges committed impeachable behaviors. David would have had a hard time being elected president once his indiscretions were made known. Saul was well known to be a depressive and how many prophets asked God just to end their lives? Well, we could go on... Paul the religious fanatic, terrorizing Christians.
So why not John? Why do we still think God needs perfect people to further his plans for the world? Why do we judge people God leads into the church (it's not ours you know). Why do we think we have the plan for their lives? Give 'em to us and we'll fix 'em up! Maybe it has something to do with how well we know ourselves and can hardly believe God can use us (love us?) with our issues.
We are an issued bunch, us Christians. God in his love gathers us from the four corners and heals us - over time, much time - and as we let God get close enough to feel his embrace, gradually, we find we can embrace others, every one of them. (We, they, belong to God, you know.)