I like to poke the Jesus Bears. The thing about poking them is that the reaction almost feels aggressive, but there is somehow a safety in the consistency. My persistence is partly a barometer for my own feelings about Jesus, and partly to challenge myself and the Jesus Bears I am poking into figuring out that we can love each other even if we aren’t so sure.
But here, I was not poking a Jesus Bear. Mostly, I was trying to be friendly. I heard him talking about friends I knew, some of my best friends, and so after our set, I asked this man in the back alley of a Boston venue if he knew my friends. He did know my friends. He loves my friends! We are practically friends because of these friends! And then he said,
“So, you’re a Jesus-Lover, then!”
“Um,” I said, surprised that I had poked a Jesus Bear, “more like a friend of a friend.”
“Friend-of-a-friend of a Jesus Lover?” he pushed.
“No, more like a friend-of-a-friend of Jesus,” I said.
He nodded and walked away.
But this is how I wish I had responded:
1. What does that even mean?
2. Why would you think that?
3. You do know that if I say “no” that I am denying Jesus like Peter, but if I say “yes” then you think I am like you, and judging by how I just accidentally poked the Bear, I am not like you because…
4. I think that I am a friend to Jesus. But I am not so sure we agree as to who that is. Plus, Jesus and I used to play tea parties together and you weren’t there and he never mentioned you, so I kind of think maybe you aren’t a lover of him. Unless you guys started seeing each other later at a different tea party. And maybe sometimes just because you have a mutual friend does not mean that you will be friends with the person that your friend is friends with, and that’s okay.