When I worked as a catering manager for a Christian college, I would occasionally be responsible for managing in the dining hall for Sunday brunch. 1300 students walk through the line on a Sunday. A variety of unique individuals would pass through the register each week.
Typically, during my cashier moments, I would be lucky to get more than a “Hello Chrissy,” a “Good morning,” or a “Thank you.” But one particular Sunday brunch stands out more than any of the others. That morning, a young student interrupted my slow-rolling day to ask me about my relationship with Jesus Christ. He asked me, “Do you know Jesus personally?” Maybe it was an off day, but I was slightly offended. For several reasons.
Mostly, it offended me because it was none of his business.
I was offended by the fact that this young punk, trapped in his sheltered cage, where a student learned very little about the harsh realities of this world, thought himself better than me — enough to start imposing his views on me as if I’m no less ignorant than a 7-year-old child.
He had the nerve to continue by asking me, “Do you even know the story of Jesus Christ?”
Seriously? I thought any mildly intelligent human in the suburbs had at the very least HEARD of Jesus.
I felt belittled and caught in a net by some stupid fisherman who was looking for shrimp and caught a shark.
Because I was on duty, and because the fate of my company sort of rested in the hands of its employees, I chose to smile and nod and keep my mouth shut. But just to be a pain in the ass, I wanted to tell him no. I wanted to tell him I’m an agnostic. Or an atheist. Or Buddhist. Or…anything else. I wanted to argue my ass off. Regardless of its truth.
He continued, despite my lack of engagement. When he told me, “When people go to Jesus, and they say ‘look at all the good I’ve done for you’ he replies ‘but I did not know you and you did not know me,’ ” I wanted to tell him that if JC were on Earth right then, the LAST place he’d be would be that particular college. He would be at the bars with the drunks. He would be on the streets with the homeless and the prostitutes. He would be in Afghanistan with the wounded and homeless civilians. He would be in Africa with the AIDS sufferers. He would most certainly not have surrounded himself with overly-righteous self-absorbed teenagers who thought their shit didn’t stink because they were close personal friends with the Lord himself.
Working at a college with such a lack of diversity offered me plenty of material to write about. There was a lot for me to think about when I was surrounded by people who thought that they were so much better because they were Evangelical Christians.
Of course, not all of the students were preachy or judgy. Some were a lot of fun. Some, I miss. It was a strange little bubble to be a part of, and I still look back on the majority of my experience fondly. But today, I’m grateful that no one questioned my faith.