‘Hey Erik, we’re making soup and serving it in Camden this Saturday night. Want to join us?’
It was my friend Larry’s normal question right before the first Saturday of the month occurred. I don’t know how many times he asked me – half a dozen at least. I was finally able to say yes. So I went into Camden with my daughter this past Saturday night to serve soup to homeless people. I went expecting the following items: 1. To serve soup; 2. To be convicted of my affluence; 3. To be saddened by the state of society; 4. To share Jesus with people who didn’t know him.
Each of the items happened, and powerfully. Plus I had the chance to see my daughter grow spiritually and tangibly as she cared for people as they lay on their cardboard beds. But one other thing occurred that I didn’t expect.
I saw a man lose his shirt. Willingly.
One of the men in line waiting for soup was a regular customer. He smelled. He was dirty. He was destitute. And he didn’t have a shirt. One of the men in our group asked him where his shirt was and the man started to cry. You see, men jumped him the night before, beat him up, took his clothes and lit them on fire.
(Who would do that, really?)
It made me sad. But it was nothing compared to what happened next.
The man serving the soup…took…off…his…shirt…and gave it to the man who had none. The man serving the soup only had a pair of shorts on. That’s it; sneakers and shorts. I’ve been a Christian for a long, long time; I’ve been halfway around the world on missions trips; I work in ministry every day. But I don’t think I have ever seen such a humble act. In my life.
Who does that? Who gives up the (only) shirt he’s wearing to a dirty, smelly homeless guy? Who does it and why? In this instance, the answer is easy:
A follower of Jesus bent on making disciples and acting out the commands of his Savior. Losing your shirt is a small price to pay for an eternity of riches. It’s a rare event when losing your shirt is a good thing.
This time, it was.