You’ve heard about Joe the Plumber, now hear about Joe the Saint. This is from a sermon I once preached and an old post here on the blog – just in time for All Saints Sunday!
There is a classic story about one of these saints told by Tony Campolo. There was a man named Joe who was addicted to alcohol. By God’s grace he was converted to the Christian faith at a mission in one of the worst parts of New York City. Before his conversion, Joe was known – at best – as a dirty hopeless wino with no future. Following his conversion, something profound happened. Joe became the most caring person that anyone associated with the mission had ever known. He spent his days and nights “happening by” the mission to do whatever needed to be done. There wasn’t a single task that was too lowly for Joe to take on. There was never anything he was asked to do that he considered to be ‘beneath him.’ If a bathroom needed to have vomit mopped up, Joe was the man. If a toilet needed scrubbing, Joe was the man. Joe did anything he was asked with a kind smile and gratitude for getting the chance to help. He could be counted on to feed those feeble men who wandered into the mission off the streets, and to carefully prepare those for bed who were simply too far gone to take care of themselves. One evening, the director of the mission held a worship service and spoke to the usual crowd of still and sullen men with drooped heads. One man looked up, came down to the altar, knelt to pray, and began to sob. “Oh God, I’m ready to change.” The repentant man kept shouting, “Oh God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe, dear God! Make me like Joe; make me like Joe!” Finally the director of the mission came, and knelt down beside the man to pray, “Son…I think it might be better if you prayed, ‘Dear God, make me like Jesus.’” The man looked up with tears in his eyes and a puzzled expression on his face. He asked, “Is he anything like Joe?”
That’s what it means to be a saint. We need to be like Joe! When people are around a saint, they know it. Saints are those people who follow Jesus so closely that he starts to rub off. When you look at a saint, there is something joyful and worthwhile about them – they embrace the world with one hand and God with the other. They’re people worth imitating.