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study alone isn’t enough: you also need to practice what you preach so you don’t look like a hypocritical asshat

January 13, 2013

So I was at a local Starbucks yesterday morning getting a cup of coffee on my way to work (opening shift at a bagel shop downtown). After I got my coffee, I sat down for a minute since I had a moment to spare and noticed that the table next to me was some kind of Bible study group. I decided to listen in and see what they were talking about. The topic was Jesus—his life, teachings, and example. As they were discussing Jesus’ words to his disciples about what life as a disciple would entail, particularly how it wasn’t about being materially wealthy but about giving all that you have and following in his footsteps, a homeless man stumbled in and tried to by a coffee.

As soon as he entered, however, the guy working behind the counter immediately came around and escorted him out, addressing him by name and telling him that he knew he wasn’t allowed in there anymore. He said he had money, waving $2 he had in his hand; but the way the barista addressed him, it was evident that he was well-known there and had probably caused some kind of trouble before. He also seemed either high, drunk, or mentally disabled, and could barely stand let alone walk. It was a pitiful sight, and I felt bad for the guy. My first thought was to buy his coffee for him, and when he got the boot, I was thinking about buying one and bringing it out to him. At the same time, the Bible study group not 5ft away continued with their discussion, completely ignoring it all.

It struck me as being a bit ironic watching a homeless guy get the boot from a coffee shop while a Bible study group talking about Jesus didn’t even seem to acknowledge his existence. They completely ignored the whole thing; they didn’t even bother to turn their heads, and I know they could hear/see it all since I was sitting at the table next to them. I wanted to be all like, “Mt 25:31-36, yo!” And the kicker was that the guy leading the group was right in the middle of talking about Jesus and his message to his disciples about following his example at the same time an obviously poor man who was in need in more ways than one was being booted out of the cafe and into the cold, Portland morning.

Before I could buy a coffee and bring it out to him, however, the person working there who’d kicked him out fixed him one and brought it out to him, which was probably out of kindness as much as it was out of a desire to keep him from coming back in. And I just sat there, somewhat dumbstruck by the ironic and hypocritical scene taking place before my eyes at 6:30 in the morning as a bunch of people talking big about Jesus, being a good person, not judging others, etc. completely ignored the very person Jesus said to feed, clothe, take care of, etc. (The Thai Buddhist monk I sit with every Tuesday makes a better Christian than most Christians I’ve met, always making food for the local rescue mission.) What’s the point of even studying the Bible if you don’t practice what you preach?


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