Losing Streak

A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. (Mark 14:51-52)

I can relate. Everytime I’ve tried to follow Jesus—I mean really tried to follow the Jesus guy—I’ve ended up running for my life buck naked. Believe me, I’ve tried it many many times. I get this deep conviction, see, that rises from my bowels (Biblically speaking, of course) and before I know it there I am making another heartfelt “commitment” to lay it all down on the proverbial altar. I yet again ask for forgiveness for my yet again wasted, yet again rebellious, yet again self-centered life and, reassured that God loves me and is theologically required to yet again remove my manifold sins from me as far as the east is from the west, I yet again draw from my divinely apportioned 70 times seven allotment of forgiveness. (So says my New American Standard version, giving me a grand total of at least 490 shots at forgiveness; my NIV gives me only 77 shots, which is why it’s gathering dust on my shelf.) Then, reassured of a new start, I give the “sold out” thing yet another go only to find myself yet again in the clutches of an unsympathetic reality which unceremoniously strips me of my newly laundered spiritual garments as I bolt butt naked into the night.

So I’ve pretty much given up on the “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” thing and settled for a low-grade, manageable Christian guilt that is somewhat mollified by the reassurance of a suburban gospel that tells me that nobody measures up and so don’t worry about it, just accept God’s love which cancels out all those legalistic little ditties Jesus urped before he got enlightened by three nails and a spear in the gut. As a reprobate, I have appreciated the continued welcome I receive at churches everywhere who don’t seem to mind at all that I no longer have any intention of trying to actually follow Jesus. It seems that as long as I’m sincere about my chronic reprobation I continue to qualify for God’s unconditional favor. Apparently hypocrisy is the only thing I need to worry about.

Resignation isn’t such a bad thing. though. Not only do I get to opt out of actually walking like Jesus walked, but I get to feel minimally bad about it too. It’s like the rich young ruler thing, except, in my case, Jesus changes his mind and runs after me. I get an apology from him for being too harsh and get to keep all my stuff to boot. I imagine it goes something like this:

JESUS: Wait!  (running to me, out of breath) It’s okay. You can still be a disciple if you want to.

ME: You mean I don’t have to sell all my stuff after all?

JESUS: Naw. Forget it. It was hyperbole. You know, just an exaggeration to make a point.

ME: What was the point exactly?

JESUS: Oh, the hell with the point. What matters is that I accept you as you are.

ME: Just as I am, without one plea?

JESUS: Yep. I won’t ask you for a thing.

ME: Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve?

JESUS: No strings attached. By the way, can you can the King James lingo please?

ME: Sorry. I thought it sounded more spiritual.

JESUS: I’ve always hated Shakespeare. Hamlet was a schmo. So we gotta deal?

ME: Deal. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

JESUS: Enough with the jingles already. Here’s your membership card. After 490 punches you get a freebie and a new card.

ME: Cool. Thanks. Wow, what a great religion.

JESUS: And to think I almost messed it up. A few hours on a cross sure knocks some sense into a guy.

ME: Thanks for that, by the way.

JESUS: Ah, it was nothing. Let’s eat. You like pastrami on rye?

* * *

And so it goes . . . I hope.

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One Response

  1. You do realize, you chose a parish who’s patron is The Gospel Streaker. Seems about right.

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