Giving Jesus the Bird

Last night as I was leaving (and locking up) the church, a man in a truck pulled up, and asked where the prayer meeting was. I said I didn’t know, but that we didn’t have anything scheduled in the building for that night. We have several groups and three different churches that share our facilities, so I’m not even entirely sure which prayer meeting he was talking about. He was disappointed, but seemed to understand.

Just as I started to get into my car, he paused and said, “Unless…you’d like to pray with me?” I sensed he wasn’t looking for a casual, Presbyterian-style 30-second prayer. I told him that ordinarily I would have been happy to (would I, though?) but that I was on my way to a meeting where people were expecting me. He promptly (perhaps too promptly?) said, “Oh, that’s OK – I understand” and then got back into his truck and drove away. So did I.

“Whatever you do to the least of these, you have done to me…”

I think I just told Jesus to fuck off. Sure, I was polite about it, but giving someone the bird with a smile on your face doesn’t exactly make it a nicer gesture.

I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since then. I hope his need for prayer wasn’t borne out of desperation. I mumbled a quick prayer for him in the car on the way to my writer’s group meeting (where no one was really “expecting” me), but that still didn’t assuage my guilt. And then, because apparently I have a tendency to intellectualize things in order to keep my emotions at arm’s length, I went completely analytical and introspective about it all.


  1. And you really feel called to be a minister? Great start.
  2. I suck at prayer. I’m not even sure I believe in it or like it that much.
  3. Hey, I could blog about this. Blogs are confessional.
  4. Confession is good. It’s honest. And transparent.
  5. And self-centered. And…arrogant.
  6. Great. Here we are back at the psych eval again.
  7. Wait, wasn’t this about that guy? How did I manage to make it about me?

Actually, the more I thought about that last one, the more I thought there might be some truth to it. If that guy really was Jesus, or even represented Jesus and all the things that I say I believe in and stand for and want for the world, then who really lost out on an opportunity last night? Him…

…or me?

And why is it always about me?

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6 Responses to Giving Jesus the Bird

  1. Tia Lynn says:

    Excellent post. Thanks for sharing this one.

  2. Ryan Pappan says:

    I have told Jesus to F&*k off too. Good thing is Jesus can handle the f-word. Thank you for sharing.

    Is not pray a posture in which the world is transformed? Then you both lost out and it is about both of you, and me.

    Blessings friend.

  3. Pingback: Mr. Locke’s Classroom » Giving Jesus the Tacos

  4. pastor ln says:

    Bet you don’t make that mistake again….

  5. Pingback: mnphysicists theological blog » Mr. Locke’s Classroom » Giving Jesus the Bird

  6. Julie the ex-Pape, Jensen says:

    I think we’ve all done this, Neal, hopefully the depth of conviction will keep us from ever missing out on showing His love again. Feel the pain. Let it change us, eh? Just reminds us how empty we are if we are not daily filled by His love. powerful post. Thanks for sharing your wretchedness…I can really relate. May our loving Father break our rotten pride and let us look into the mirror of truth, and see the reflection of grace.

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