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Some people are just scary – I mean really scary!

December 12, 2015

Some people are just scary – I mean really scary! A good few years ago I was a volunteer for Drug Dependants Anonymous (DDA) in Nottingham. DDA was an amazing organisation doing real good in that city. It was set up and run by two former drug addicts. They still lived in a little flat in one of the ‘worst’ parts of Nottingham. Their home was open house for drug addicts and those finding life hard, and they would be the first to say that their home life was to say the least ‘complicated’.

DDA grew out of the work that they were doing from their own flat. They got funding for a small centre in the middle of Nottingham with a kitchen where people could come in for a hot drink or toast or to cook their own food. There were a few private rooms where people could talk about their drug taking with someone who understood and a needle bank to help keep them alive. There were prison visits. There were washing machines and somewhere warm to sit and chat. It was in that last room that I would sit and chat to whoever came in. No one knew who I was, one guessed at me being an out of work actor!

I just chatted. Most people in there were a little unpredictable and chaotic but were never a threat. Some were not. One or two were also paranoid and had proven themselves to be violent with criminal convictions. One or two of those addicts were really scary. The normal rules of human life didn’t seem to reach them. They had strange tales to tell too. Tales of reality and paranoid fiction all woven together until no one, including them, had any idea what was true and what wasn’t.

This made me think of John the Baptist. He must have been seriously scary. Wide eyed with passion, dressed in ragged rough clothes, with long hair and beard. He didn’t seem to understand the normal rules of human life either: He ignored the normal rules of hospitality and turned on his visitors shouting things like, “You brood of vipers!” (Luke 3.7). But that is where the similarity ends – at the surface. John may have looked and sounded insane but you couldn’t have found anyone more in their right mind. He forced people to see the realities that they just didn’t want to see. He forced Herod to recognise that marrying his brother’s wife was wrong and he famously paid for it with his head (Mark 6.14-29).

If I was in any doubt about John’s sanity all I needed to do was listen to his teaching; his advice to those who would listen to his warnings. And that advice was good, simple advice for normal men and women. He told soldiers not to use their power to abuse people or steal from them. He told tax-collectors not to stop working for the Romans, but to simply be honest. To ordinary people he told them to be more caring and generous with those around them by giving their extras to those who had nothing. It is like the prophet Micah coming back to life to give God’s practical advice again:

“Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is.
This is what he wants from you:
Be fair to other people.
Love kindness and loyalty,
and humbly obey your God” (Micah 6.8). 

I find John the Baptist a scary figure, but I’m glad he did what he did and I would really like to have met him. I would love to have the chance to talk to him because I recognise him to be a prophet, someone with God’s wisdom, speaking His words. I don’t know whether I would like what he would say to me, but I do know that, easy or hard, I would need to takeit to heart. But I can’t meet John, not this side of heaven. I can though read what he said and prepare myself for Jesus, the one who is to come as judge of all. And how do I prepare? By doing the simple things, being generous, honest and above all loving. In other words I get ready by being more Christlike, so Jesus can see the family likeness when he comes to call.

  1. *out of work actor*

  2. If you prick me – do I not bleed?

    *sobs dramatically*

    • Yes, you do bleed and then you don’t know where the plasters are…

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