I was 14 years old and far from Christ when I entered foster care. I was forced to go to church by my foster parents and I resented it. I was cynical about Christians and despised the idea of having to endure their nauseating judgmental-ism and their putrid hypocrisy. I went as was demanded of me, enduring their youth group’s plastic joy. I sat silent week after week, rebuffing all attempts to break through my dog-collared and pierced stone facade. Week after week I endured this farce.
I began to look for these charlatans at school. Once found, I began to watch them, as if stalking prey. Waiting for that tale-tale moment of truth – when I could witness and peer into the cracks in their carefully crafted masks. It was a wearying endeavor. Weeks passed, then month, with no sign of weakness. I watched them “speak” love at church. I hunted their treacherous twin – that real “them” that time would reveal. More weeks, more months – and still no break.
Could it be that they actually did love one another? Could it be that they actually did care when they prayed with heaps of hands laid on troubled foreheads? Could it be that this band of con-artists were in fact the genuine article, the real deal? I determined to infiltrate further – more of them I would study. Feigning friendship, I engaged them – to discover the truth of “them.”
21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21)
Try as I might I could not uncover anything other than what was outwardly displayed. Not perfect people, but people who actually strove toward perfect love. I found no hypocrisy here. I found no hidden agenda. I found something quite desirable instead: willingly accountable and mutually loving community. I longed to end my surveillance, and become like them, to become one of them. As I did, I found something else that I wasn’t looking for: the arms of Jesus, because that is where they were – and that is where I went.