This is the oft repeated mantra of one Ashley Flowers, the host of the acclaimed podcast series Crime Junkies.
Each week on her show, Ashley explores a different criminal case – some recent, some decades old; some solved, some unsolved – and over the course of 45 minutes or so she lays out for listeners all of the case’s grisly details.
We’re talking murders. We’re talking missing persons. We’re talking serial killers. That sorta stuff. The show is as fascinating as it is unsettling.
In any case, Ashley came up with this mantra after years of doing research for her podcast, and before that years of volunteering for a nonprofit tipline that would receive anonymous tips from the public to aid in police investigations.
What she came to realize was that in a good chunk of these cases, had a witness or the victim themselves simply caused a scene when they first felt that something was off about a particular person or about a particular situation, they might very well still be alive.
For example, if you’re at a bar, and some creep is giving you the heebie jeebies because he’s staring at you and following you around –Don’t just ignore him. And definitely don’t try to sneak out to your car alone to get away!
No, trust that gut feeling, ignore whatever social pressure that you feel to appear calm, and cool, and collected, to seem dignified and proper and without shame or embarrassment, stand up on a table, point your finger at that sucker and yell:
“Hey everybody this creep is following me around and freaking me out!”
That is some sage life advice right there.
Oddly enough, in this passage from the 11th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus offers us strikingly similar advice!
He presents this metaphorical situation. He says, “Imagine that you have a neighbor. And imagine that, one night at midnight you go knocking on that neighbor’s door to borrow some food because some of your friends have shown up out of the blue and you have nothing for them to nosh on”.
“That neighbor of yours,” says Jesus, “ain’t gonna open their door for you! If they have any common sense at all they’ll shout out their window: ‘Sorry buddy. Ma door is already locked! Ma kids are already tucked in! Take a hike!'”
“No,” says Jesus, “that neighbor that you are so rudely waking up in the MIDDLE of the night will not give you what you desire simply out of sense of friendship.”
But, if you ignore whatever social pressure that you feel to appear calm, and cool, and collected, to seem dignified and proper and without shame or embarrassment, KEEP ON KNOCKING, that poor, pestered neighbor will eventually give you as much food as you want just to get you go away.”
“As it is with that pestered neighbor so too it is with God.”
Be weird. Be rude. And go to God in prayer.
Luke 11:1-13 (New Living Translation)
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:
“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”
Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
But if we take a step back here,
we ALSO see
that Jesus’ advice has a much wider application
than just for how we pray.
Because if Jesus is inviting us
– in our pursuit of good things–
– good for us, good for the world –
to be shameless towards GOD
the Creator and Sovereign of the Universe!
how much more
how much more
should we feel invited
to be utterly shameless towards other PEOPLE
as we pursue what is good.
As my favorite preacher,
a guy named Timmy Keller,
is fond of saying,
So long as you have the king’s favor
who cares what the peasants think.
this is just soo soo important
for us to really take to heart,
to really believe
to really live into
Now more than ever.
Because if the past year has taught us anything
it is that
the rich and the powerful in this world
feel no social pressure AT ALL
to do what is dignified and proper
to do what is right or good
and without a modicum of shame or embarrassment
they will seek their personal gain
at the expense of… everyone else.
at the very outset of this pandemic.
When our elected officials, our senators
both Democrat and Republican
received a security briefing about the looming health crisis
and rather than using that information
to sound alarm bells and potentially save lives
they instead used that information
to rearrange their stock portfolios
and make tens of millions of dollars for themselves,
while publicly downplaying the seriousness the virus.
Then, as the pandemic raged on,
and 8 million Americans fell BELOW the poverty line
and tens of millions of Americans gell BEHIND
in their rent and mortgage payments
and now face eviction whenever the moratorium expires.
At that very same time
Jeff Bezos added $50 billion dollars
to his already vast fortune.
Which would be impressive
it would be a very impressive thing indeed
Amazon wasn’t didn’t rank near the top of the list
of employers in the US
whose workers need both Food Stamps and Medicaid
just to survive.
Meaning, that Mr. Bezos
pocketed $50 billion dollars this past year,
not just because you couldn’t resist
hitting that Buy Now button every 30 seconds
but because through our tax dollars
you and I are paying so that his employees
can have food to eat and access to healthcare
while HE pays them only starvation wages.
The rich and the powerful are utterly shameless
in the pursuit of personal gain,
at the expense of you and me and everyone else.
If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us this.
And I admit
it’s an intimidating thing to
face up to the abject greed and corruption
of those who pull the levers of power
and those who sit upon endless piles of money.
So now, more than ever,
we need to remember and be emboldened
by the shamelessness
of our forebears in faith.
We need to remember the shamelessness of Mary
who accepted God’s calling on life
and became an unwed teenage mother
at a time when that sort of thing
could get you stoned to death.
Despite the mockery and derision and ostracism
that no doubt came her way
she held her head high.
And it is because of the shamelessness of Mary
that Jesus Christ was born into the world
We need to remember the shamelessness of the Apostle Paul
who carried the gospel
throughout the ancient world
establishing churches everywhere he went.
Despite being beaten and thrown in jail and almost drowned
Paul held his head high.
And it is because of the shamelessness of Paul
that Christianity was transformed
from an obscure sect
of another backwater middle eastern religion
into a faith that today claims as adherents
half of the world’s population.
We need to remember the shamelessness
of the Pilgrims and Puritans
who, to be fair,
were very much into shame in some ways,
but they were shameLESS in their pursuit of God’s truth.
In the face great of religious persecution in England,
they held their heads high.
And it is because of the shamelessness of the Pilgrim and Puritans
that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded
and religious freedom became a bedrock principle
of our great nation.
And we need to remember the shamelessness
of American heroes like John Lewis.
who challenged the dehumanizing laws of segregation
by sitting in at lunch counters in Nashville
with other melanated children of God
Despite the threat of arrest and of violence and of death
Lewis held his head high.
And it is because of the shamelessness of Lewis
and others like him
that our nation began its long struggle toward racial equality
a struggle still carried on today by other shameless activists
like our own Crystal Chandler
who will be leading a discussion TONIGHT
on the movie Hidden Figures.
Details available in the chat box.
Friends, the rich and powerful
have always always always been shameless in their pursuit
of personal gain at the expense of everyone else.
But what moves the needle in the other direction
is, and always has been,
the shamelessness of God’s people
working in the name love.
Go to God in prayer.
And change our world for better.
weird, rude, and shameless people