I always find it interesting when I meet a person who is not a Christian but is more selfless and Christ-like than I am.
You see, as I have grown up in and around Christian circles, I have made the mistake of thinking of myself as a more upright person than 'non-Christians'. So it came as a bit of a shock to find myself time and time again impressed by what I would call the 'Christ-likeness' of the people who do not know Jesus.
I met a guy called Zeus (not his real name). Now Zeus worked at the local hardware shop in the town where I grew up and was a relatively rugged looking man, he had all the tats, the beer keg, and the swag to suit.
One time, as I was with a friend who was going through a shockingly hard time, I heard a knock at the door. I answered and it was Zeus—someone my friend did not know. Zeus held a stack load of freshly smoked snapper (a real treat in New Zealand). Zeus gave me the fish and said it was for my friend, and that he gave his regards.
I was curious about what led him to do such a nice thing. Zeus just said that was what he did for his neighbours. I thought about how much I would love to be Zeus' neighbour, and I was inspired to be more of a neighbour like Zeus.
Now I have met many people like this—kind, generous, humble—and I have been impressed. I have been taught by these people what it means to be a good person. For some time I did not know what to do with this, but I knew I wanted to talk with them about it.
I wanted to tell them that I was a Christian, but they had taught me a lesson about Jesus, about how to love, or show kindness, or how to be generous or hospitable. I wanted to apologise for the righteousness I had assumed and affirm their humanity, and in turn their reflection of their creator. But at the time I did not know how to put this into words.
I've come to realise that Jesus did not use people who were assumed to be 'holy' or 'righteous' to show what God was like, Jesus often used the outsider, the assumed not, the foreign, and the secular to talk about that which was sacred.
If you want to read some of those stories you can find them in the Bible in Luke chapter 19 verses 1–9 (the story about Zacchaeus the chief tax collector), or in Matthew chapter 8 verses 5–13 (the story of the faith of the Roman centurion), or John chapter 4 verses 1–26 (the story of the foreign woman at the well), there are many more too, these are just some.
I now think that it is strange that so often people who claim to follow Jesus often end up thinking of themselves as better than others. I want to apologise for ever thinking I had a monopoly on kindness.
I also want to thank you, Zeus (not the Greek god, but the humble tubby man), and all the other secular holy men and women, for teaching me more about Jesus.
Jared Diprose is a self-employed Artisan and co-director of the Mosaic Workshop. He has a degree in Theology, and believes that words shape worlds. He is married to Sierra. You can see some of his work at www.facebook.com/jareddiprosecreative and you can check out The Mosaic Workshop at www.facebook.com/workshopmosaic
Jared Diprose's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jared-diprose.html