In a recent sermon, we looked at Paul’s proclamation: “If anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17). Paul is telling us what happened to him. He is also telling us what can happen to us.
Tony Campolo tells the story of how Joe came to be a new creation in Christ. Joe was a drunk. Those who knew him best and tried to help him most would have called him a hopeless drunk. He lived on the streets. He relied on the mercy of others. He had long ago hit bottom, but Joe had stayed there. It would appear he would stay there for the rest of his life which, due to his alcoholism would surely be a short one.
He had heard many sermons. Attendance at religious services was often the price for his meals. But somehow one night at the Bowery mission, God finally got through to him. Joe gave his life to Jesus. The change in Joe’s life was truly remarkable.
Joe became the most caring person that anyone associated with the mission had ever know. He spent his days and nights hanging out at the mission doing whatever he could see that needed to be done. Nothing was too lowly for Joe to take on. There was never anything that he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up the vomit left by someone who had too much to drink or scrubbing toilets that had been left in a disgusting state, Joe did whatever there was that needed doing with a smile on his face and with gratitude for the privilege of getting to help. He could be counted on to feed feeble men who wandered into the mission off the street and to undress and tuck into bed men who were too out of it to take of themsleves. He always had time to talk with them. And he always did more listening than talking.
One evening during the worship service one man came to the altar. He was crying as he prayed. The director of the mission came over and knelt beside him. Between sobs, this repentant drunk could be heard repeating over and over, “O God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!
Obviously this man hadn’t been listening to the sermon. It was expalined to him that Jesus is the one God sent to be our Savior. Jesus is our example. So he really should be praying, “Make me like Jesus!”.
The man looked up at the director with a quizzical expression his face and asked, “Is he like Joe?”
Pastor John Watts