If you’ve got nothin’ to say to folks at Johnny’s Cafe
You’ve got nothin’ to say at all
Having something to say is all about being able to communicate with anyone, anywhere. It’s about finding what we have in common with people wherever we are.
It’s hard to imagine Jesus hanging with people in the world since all we have recorded in the gospels are His words related to His teaching, healing and confrontations with the Jewish leaders who seemed to always be watching. We don’t find much in the way of incidental conversations recorded in the scriptures; we can only imagine these. But Jesus was almost always in the company of the disciples and the secondary crowds that gathered around them. The words recorded were most important in establishing who He was and what He came to do. But He was a traveling, itinerant preacher for three years. That’s a long time — 1,095 days to be exact. It simply wasn’t that every time He opened His mouth, scripture came out.
Jesus seemed to be most comfortable in the presence of ordinary people. At the party at Matthew’s house attended by “many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners” (Matthew 9:10), Jesus was in the mix. At the wedding in Cana, where He changed the water into wine, Jesus was quite comfortable, at first, not wanting to set Himself apart by performing a miracle because His time had not yet come, except that His mother insisted. Even then, He played it down. Only the servants and the disciples knew about the miracle. That’s when it was said of Him, “No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart” (John 2:25). Jesus understood people better than they understood themselves.
Thus Jesus would have had plenty to say to the folks at Johnny’s Cafe because he understood them. He knew what was in their hearts, but He did not fight His way in. He left a trail of clues for them to follow, should they have an interest in knowing more. So, did Jesus carry on small talk with the people around Him? I don’t know why not. Nothing He said or did would have prevented it, indeed, it seems more like Him to blend in than to stick out like the religious teachers of the day. They set themselves apart by their robes, their phylacteries and their holy talk. Jesus walked and talked among the disciples and the people. He commented on what they saw as they passed by. He told stories; maybe even a few jokes. He might have been a little hard to find in the crowd that surrounded Him.
If our faith doesn’t translate to anything meaningful outside our isolated circle of Christian friends, then it doesn’t mean anything anywhere, including on the “inside” where we think we all know what we mean. Johnny’s Cafe (or wherever we meet the world), is an excellent proving ground for our faith.