So I was reading a devotional book I wrote a few years ago. I enjoyed it, which says something about either my ego or self-confidence.

It was a story I wrote about a guy named Max that I met in Haiti. I had been sitting outside the church on Sunday morning working on my message for worship. A couple guys approached me and one of them, Max, asked if he could have my shoes so he could go to church. Well, I wasn’t about to give up my shoes at that moment and so told him he didn’t need shoes to come into church. I later learned that he indeed needed shoes as a sign of respect. Interestingly I remembered that Moses was asked to take off his shoes as a sign of respect before God.

Anyway as we talked I noticed that a cigarette Max had tucked behind his ear fell to the ground. He pushed it away with his bare foot, which upon noticing I commented, ‘Max, I think you dropped your cigarette.’ Max responded that it wasn’t his cigarette, another taboo in Haiti for the worshipping people. I told Max that God loved him with or without the cigarette and that as long as I was the preacher he could come to worship without shoes. I probably should have gone shoeless myself but I am a slow learner.

At worship that day I looked in vain for Max. And I told the congregation about a man who needed their love and acceptance. I don’t know what happened to Max but I was sorry that law and tradition got in the way of grace.

Besides I enjoy a good smoke now and then and wonder what people would think of me. I know what Jesus thinks. Sometimes during a smoke we talk with each other, with or without shoes.

I want to be a person of grace, more than disciplines, traditions, laws- even some laws found in the Bible. Jesus didn’t always comply with the rules so that people would know love. The church needs to be that way too. Nuf said, which is like saying Amen.

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