These are the people in your neighbourhood... #2
The first reaction I had to the whipped cream was that this was a youth pastor or something like that. Those guys are wacky. This was some crazy thing for the kiddos. I was wrong.
"Would you like some whipped cream?" he asked. Still thinking this was an odd lead to the Jesus conversation into which I was about to be pulled, I replied "No Thank you"
"It's whipped cream left over from the stripping gig I just finished at The Treasury..." he continued.
Now he kept talking but I want you to know that my perception of time slowed down in that moment at my brain struggled to deal the reality this young man was sharing with me. "Did he have to miss the main session to do that? It's too bad because John Ortberg was awesome. Stripping is an odd job for a youth pastor to have on the side. Oh, wait a minute..." It took longer than I would care to admit for me to grasp that I was walking and talking with the only person in a five block radius who hadn't accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour and it only firmly set in when I heard him say "... and I've still got whipped cream in my ass crack."
And it didn't stop there. He obviously wanted to tell a stranger about this experience he had just had and I was more than fascinated enough to ask questions.
Who books that? (The fiancee of the guy who was graduating)
What? (It was for a guy, but his girl fiancee booked me)
That's an odd engagement gift. (My fiancee thought so too)
Is your fiancee a she or...? (oh yeah, shes a girl)
Is she cool with this (Oh yeah, she supports me on hundred percent)
Really? So is this a career move for you? (No I think I'm in the red with all the booze I had to drink beforehand)
How can put this delicately... how does one prepare for this sort of performance? (Well, I go out back before I start my finishing move...)
Wait, you have a finishing move? Like a professional wrestler?
This conversation continued for at least five blocks until I actually had to stop at an ATM. Now I don't think for a second that I'm the first pastor to spend an extended period of time with a male stripper, but I'd guess I'm one of the few who did so without paying for it.
There's a part of me that if I were a good Christian or a good pastor I would have turned this into a conversation about Jesus that resulted in a changed life and a new calling for this guy that involved less whipped cream in his unmentionables, but rather than asking him what his body was created for or if he died tonight where would he go the first question I could think to ask was "Is that lucrative?" If this was my Tony Campolo moment, I was completly screwing it up.
And as someone who believes in the sovereignty of God, this situation raises some strange questions, like did God have me run in to him to remind me that even if there are 15000 evangelicals worshipping in a conference centre across the street, my place is going to be talking to the young guy who just finished taking his clothes off for money at a crappy bottle service club? Or Did God choose me out of the 15000 because maybe I was the one who wouldn't make this kid feel any more like a piece of crap than he already did. I don't know.
Anyway. These are the people in our neighbourhood. There are people who want to talk about Jesus and there are people who take their clothes off for money and it's very difficult to tell them apart and sometimes they're the same person. Most of the time though, you don't know until you start talking.