Jesus Is My Boss by Alison Taylor

Alison is a junior in high school and involved in HYACKs, the high school ministry at College Church. She enjoys reading, writing and music. Alison’s parents are Jeremy and Nancy Taylor.

On the morning of June 17, a group of twelve high school students stepped out of the church van onto the concrete driveway of “The Ministry” in Englewood—viewed as the poorest, most violent neighborhood in Chicago. We had arrived, and we were determined to make a difference.

We filled our time with all sorts of memorable activities: meaningful conversations about how best to respond to poverty, prayer walks down deserted streets lined with crumbling houses and mountains of trash, and most serious of all to residents of Englewood—intense games of basketball. But among all of these, the memory that will stick with me the longest was a simple testimony from a guest during dinner near the end of the week.

The first thing I noticed when he walked in was his baseball cap, which read, “Jesus is my boss.” It was well-worn, clearly a regular component of his outfit. As he sat on the couch waiting for dinner, he read the Bible he had brought with him. His eagerness amazed me. It was like he was partaking of the most delicious, satisfying meal imaginable, hungrily absorbing every word—all this before the actual meal we would eat. I immediately assumed that he was either a brand-new Christian for whom the youthful excitement has not yet worn away, or a believer of several decades who knows God intimately from years of dedicated Bible study.

When he began to talk, it was like every word he spoke was more important to him than the one before it. Sentences tumbled from his lips without a specific structure because there was always one more thing to say. “I could talk about Jesus all day!” he said after one particularly long tangent. But listening to him was neither boring nor confusing, because everything he said was profound, coming straight from the Spirit.

He had been jobless and homeless for more than 40 years, repeatedly spending all his money for drugs. He wanted nothing to do with God. It was not until his mid-fifties that a pastor began to reach out to him, inviting him to Bible studies and following up afterwards, even visiting the homeless encampment where he lived. When he finally gave his life to Christ, at almost 60 years old, it was only by the relentless efforts of the pastor and by the work of the Spirit in his heart.

The obvious takeaway from his story is to never give up on people, even if they seem like they are hopeless. Becoming a Christian does not always happen overnight; it may take years of prayer and limitless love before any fruit is visible. We should pray for patience and persistence as we share the gospel with our friends.

Ultimately, no amount of time or love can change a person’s heart—only God can do that. It’s like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” That is why prayer is so absolutely crucial; on our own, we cannot accomplish anything!

Beyond that, there is also another, deeper point, which I discussed at some length with other members of the team. This man—who read his Bible with an insatiable hunger, who could not stop talking about his Savior, who loved to inspire young people with his testimony of God’s work in his life—had been a believer for not even ten years. I have been a Christian for longer than that. So how did a homeless drug addict of 40 years become such an enthusiastic follower of Jesus?

From an earthly perspective this seems impossible, and even unfair. Why should God save someone who is so sinful? The answer reveals itself all throughout the Bible. In God’s eyes, I am as much a sinner as anyone else, which means I am equally incapable of following God’s perfect Law, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

God’s grace isn’t limited to privileged churchgoers in Wheaton. It is offered to hospitalized overdose victims, imprisoned criminals and destitute immigrants. And all who respond to God’s offer with faith receive the same status: children of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Before God, I have nothing to boast about, because my salvation is something I have not earned. This means that even though this man wasted fifty years of his life, I will never be superior to him in God’s eyes.

And that truly is good news.