I had the opportunity to meet a man yesterday that is of a type that I have not met in a long time. Years ago we used to refer to people such as him as a "Jesus Freak". That was the name we gave to people who were consumed with their religion and who talked about it constantly. Many times their enthusiasm about their relationship with Jesus was so overwhelming that it was hard to be around them for any length of time.
The man I met yesterday was passing through our area and needed financial assistance. He was referred to me by a church member who had met him while having lunch in the next town over. She told him how to get to our church and he hitchhiked down here and showed up in mid-afternoon. His needs were simple enough and he was not demanding. He wanted to be able to spend the night in a motel and get some needed food items.
The minute he entered the door, however, he was full of enthusiasm and kept talking about Jesus over and over again. He was a bit too hyper for me and my secretary, though, and his energy seemed in sharp contrast to that of a man who had walked and ridden almost 40 miles in that day. He was wearing his religious shirt and cap and had a Christian fish symbol hanging from a chain around his neck. He got very excited when I told him we could help him and told me, "God had a divine appointment for me here today. He knew to send me here so you could help me." He paced back and forth in my office and in the church and asked me if I could drive him to the local motel where he would be staying. I agreed and picked him and his gear up in my car and drove him to the motel, first stopping at the local grocery store for him to get his food. I went into the store with him and he took off like a shot racing around the store as if he had a new burst of energy, stopping now and then to tell jokes to strangers he met along the way. Equipped with food to last him the night and into the next day, I stopped at the motel with him and went into be sure that the payment for his stay was acceptable to the clerk. Our new friend talked constantly and when I told him goodbye he said for me to be sure to pray for him so he would find a job in the town where he was heading.
This encounter was a happy one for me. I do not come in contact with people who are so excited about their experience with Jesus that they want to tell everyone and will display it for everyone to see in their clothing as well as hear in all they say. He reminded me a lot of my brother, who died a bit over a year ago. He too was a "Jesus Freak". He was a Pentecostal all his life and punctuated his speech constantly with "Praise the Lord" or "Thank God". He was very sincere in the way he lived and he trusted God for all of his life including his health which took a turn for the worst and finally led to his death. He had no need for health insurance or a pension or a will because he believed Jesus would take care of him and he needed none of those "worldly" things. When he died, he left little behind to help his widow and son because he believed Jesus would help him with whatever he needed. I guess it was fortunate that his wife also died four months later because she was totally lost without him and did not believe that Jesus was all that was needed to pay the bills. Their son is lost now, totally dependent on the only relative that will give him what he needs, his grandmother.
Faith in God is not something that is reflected in the life of every person the same. To some, faith is a very quiet and private matter. Some people will not tell you that they are a Christian but attempt to live out Christian principles in daily life. Others wear their faith on their clothing, the backs of their cars, and on bumper stickers for all to read. Being a Jesus Freak is not a deeper belief in God than that of the quiet ones among us. It is simply a different expression of faith. To some, for some reason, they need to loudly proclaim that they are Christians. For others, the proclamation of their faith in visible or auditory ways is not as important to them as simply living the way they think Jesus would have them live.
St. Paul describes faith and love in the most famous passage he wrote, I Corinthians 13, and talked about being like a noisy gong or a clanging symbol, very loud things that draws attention immediately. He compares that with lives lived for love that act in faith and are many times not even noticed. We will always remember the Jesus Freaks among us because they get our attention but perhaps those living quiet faithful lives among us will be the ones whose legacy will live long after their human lives are gone.