Gordy Kisses

There are people in this world whose lives have been so dramatically changed by the grace of Jesus that it shakes you. Their story is so powerful, beautiful, and desirable that you can’t walk away without wanting what they have. If you’re a believer, you want more of the God that they have, to more tangibly feel His grace and experience His miracles.  If you’re a skeptic, you want to believe in the God they speak of, you want to look past your doubts and questions to a God who changes people.

Gordy is one of those people. I met Gordy this last weekend in Galveston. My buddies and I tagged along on a mission trip with the Church Under the Bridge. Yes, Church Under the Bridge, the one that meets under the noisy freeway and sits on foldout chairs, has a missions program.

We went to Galveston with about fifteen others from the church. The first thing we did was go around the room and share a quick two minute introduction of who we are. Usually during these types of things, you stick to the surface level. We quickly found out that  the Church Under the Bridge does not operate on the surface level. Coming into the trip, we had no idea who we’d be serving alongside. After we went around, we realized we were surrounded by people who had hit rock bottom, been rescued by Jesus, and now wanted to tell us all about it

Gordy was rescued by grace at the age of 47. Before then, he was addicted to methamphetamine for most of his life. He told us all sorts of stories about the drugs he used to do, drugs I had never even heard of, and all the times he should have died. He told them with this amazing sense of gratitude towards His Savior. I’ve never met anyone who paints a bigger picture of God with their words than Gordy. He refers to Him as Daddy. Always. His most commonly used phrase is “Daddy took care of it.”

Gordy has this loving sense of boldness that is created when God’s grace meets a person who’s willing to be vulnerable. He starts calling you brother a couple minutes after meeting you. He gives kisses on the cheek to people when he says goodbye. They’ve been infamously and creatively named “Gordy kisses” by his many friends. He hands out cards with his cell phone number and E-mail address so people can contact him for prayer. He gives out a penny with a cross cut out of it to just about everyone he comes in contact with. He’ll shake your hand, give you the penny with a smile, and say “be blessed brother.” He gets these things from who knows where and goes through about a thousand pennies a month.

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Roughly two thousand years ago, Jesus tried to explain to a skeptic why people like Gordy love Him so powerfully and clearly. Here’s the story from Luke.

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:37-47

How much do you think you’ve been forgiven? This question is really really important for every Christian to answer. Our answer determines whether we’ll worship at the feet of our King or just tune into the nearest Christian radio station and show up to a building on Sundays.

Paul uses the word dead to describe our state before God entered into the fray. He writes that we were dead in our sins. Dead isn’t on a sliding scale. Our condition before Christ isn’t dependent on how many parties we’ve been to or how many lies we’ve told, it’s the same for meth addicts and Nobel Peace prizewinners.

So whether we’ve got a story full of narcotics and theatrics like Gordy’s or not, we have been forgiven much. Our response has to be to love much. 

Gordy with his new friends

Gordy with his new friends

 

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Pretenders in Masks

Why do we wear masks?

Because deep down, we know. We know we’re broken and we know that others know it. Our fear of this inevitability drives us to construct our entire lives around being liked, being respected, being known. We construct our entire lives around what people around us think of us. The people around us are the stock adjustors, raising or lowering our value based on the most trivial factors. Did you make the team? Stock goes up. Did you get cut from that fraternity? Stock goes down. And just like the market, we’re always susceptible to a crash. That’s what happens when we take our bruised and battered identity, put a facade over it, and see if others like what we’ve put up.

The real irony of the masquerade that we live in is that we’re taking our brokenness to other broken people and hoping they’ll fix us.

My buddies and I spent the entire weekend with fifteen poor and marginalized people from Waco. Here’s what I love about my new friends: At some point, they stopped putting up a facade. Whether it was addiction, abuse, divorce, incarceration, their stock crashed. Their mask no longer worked. The fronts and facades failed. They couldn’t look perfect or polished or complete anymore. So they threw it away. They threw their mask away.

And some of them stayed there. They aren’t pretty and they don’t wear someone else’s pretty face. They are unmasked. You know this type. This is the poor person you don’t like, who isn’t very friendly, who has no problem asking for change on the corner despite the fact that it robs them of any ability to look capable, dignified, or put together.

Some of the poor and marginalized didn’t stay there though. They crashed just like the first group and through away their masks. But in their hurt and pain and loneliness, Jesus happened. They turned to Him and He came in and made them new. He didn’t do a surface-level repair; He gave them new hearts. These people are the most beautiful people in the world, the ones who were the most broken. They threw away their masks and went to the only one who has any right to determine their stock, their Creator.

These people have scars from their past lives in the deep creases of their foreheads. The drugs, hunger, stress, and regrets have taken a toll on their exterior. But inside, they’ve been made new, and they won’t shut up about it. I’m glad they don’t. God is using every single one of those creases to tell all of us to throw down our masks.

Whether your stock is high or low, it doesn’t matter. Your cracks might not even be visible to the world. But I think you know. I think you know that you pretend. You wear a mask. Throw it down. Let Him make you new. If that’s already happened, live like it. Don’t put your stock anywhere but  His love and grace and goodness.

Community happens when people stop feeling the need to pretend. When a group of people stops feeling the need to put out fronts and facades to hold people distant, we’re able to love people with the type of love Jesus shows us. He doesn’t love our facades and disguises and costumes. He loves us.

Broken, blemished, imperfect, He loves us.