"If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? -- Matthew 5:46
A GOOD DRUNK
By: Pat Patterson
Yeah I'm a Christian, but I had me a good drunk the other night.....
No, really. Found him lying in the middle of the street, bump on his head and a bottle by his side. He was about fifty something, dressed in simple clothes and stinking like a sack of dirty laundry. With slurred speech and the sweet, slushy scent of cheap alcohol lingering on his breath, he was about as common as can get.....
.....a real good drunk.
I chuckled. I'm a paramedic. I've seen it all before. It should have been a simple call-pick him up, throw him on the stretcher, and give him a ride to the ER for observation, oh, and by the way, pray for him-but it wasn't that easy. He became belligerent. Then he wanted to fight me. Then he went and opened his mouth. I won't tell you what he said. Christians don't use words like that. Or do we?
Well before you go pointing your finger at me, that man's words hurt. He hurt my pride! He made me angry!! What was I supposed to do, just stand there and take it? No way! I flung the words right back at him as fast as I could. After all, he deserved it. I was only trying to help him. Right?
Well, we all know the answer to that question. I was wrong. Dead wrong.
You know I've been a Christian for over thirty years, and you'd think by now I'd know better, but for me it's not that simple. I seem to make one mistake after another, failing the Lord in so many areas of my life that recently a thought has been heavy on my mind:
What does it really mean to be a Christian?
Does it mean never missing church? Attending the right Bible studies? Smiling at other Christians, and never uttering a foul word? Well, I believe Jesus answered my question when He said, "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."
"But, Lord?" I say. "Are you serious? Even him?"
If I close my eyes, I can picture Jesus hanging on the cross. If I use my imagination, I can see myself kneeling at His bloody feet. But if I put aside my pride, my arrogance, and my selfish ambitions, I can imagine that man kneeling by my side-dirty clothes, stinking breath and all-and suddenly, suddenly, everything becomes crystal clear. We're both sinners. Christ died for both of us.
I failed that test last Saturday night, it's true, but Jesus used my failure to teach me a valuable lesson. He showed me what it really means to be a Christian, and He used a good drunk to do it.....
Pat Patterson is a novelist and an Instructor of Emergency Medical Services at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, NC. He's also an EMT-Paramedic with over 16 years of experience.