I was living next door to a guy, we’ll call him Caleb, who personified nearly everything I didn’t want to be known as. He drank too much. Couldn’t keep a job. Made his own drugs. (True story.) Loved strip clubs.
Keep in mind, I had been raised in a conservative Christian home, was homeschooled for a while and didn’t see my first PG movie in a theater until I was around 12 years old. Caleb was a shock, to say the least. I didn’t quite know how to handle or interact with him, and most of the time, I didn’t have to—my life happened during the day; his life happened late at night.
Our relationship was odd, but always cordial. Sometimes, he’d even share war stories from his late nights out. They were…fascinating. Like they happened in a world only a few people could experience. He was funny, adventurous and possibly one of the riskiest people I’ve ever met.
Oh…and he hated Christians.
That was the confusing part.
He didn’t have a Christian family. Didn’t hang out with many Christians publicly. Didn’t ever go to church.
We’d talk around religion sometimes, but never discuss it directly. Finally, one day, I just had to know.
“Caleb, you’ve tried all kinds of crazy things…why don’t you ever think about trying Jesus?” (I’d never use that verbiage now, but that’s how I understood things then.)
It was a simple enough question. Usually, the person answering gives some passive response or promises to “check it out sometime.”
But not Caleb. He knew exactly why…and I wasn’t ready for what he said next.
“Matt, when I go to the strip club, sometimes there’s another group of guys there. They say all the same things I say to the women, but during the day, they’re in class studying to become pastors. Why do I need to believe what they believe when we all end up at the same place anyway?”
I’d like to tell you Caleb and I talked late into the night about the things of God. I’d like to tell you he converted and turned his life around. The truth is, that didn’t happen. In fact, I have no idea where he is today. His answer to my question left me speechless, but it also left me with no choice.
I had to go back.
But not to the same place.