Jesus and Background Checks

We like to think that everyone appreciates the work we do in our city – repairing homes as a way to empower people and transform low income neighborhoods.  But not everyone understands or appreciates the work we do.  One of the criticisms we’ve gotten recently is that we should do a better job with background checks on the homeowners we partner with. Criticism is never fun to receive, but we do desire to constantly improve our work, and so I devoted some time to pondering the suggestion about background checks.  And then I realized - we don’t really do background checks on applicants for our home repair program.  Of course, we gather helpful information – proof of homeownership, proof of identification, proof of taxes being paid and proof of need, to name a few.  But we never try to determine whether or not we partner with a homeowner based on their background.  Why?  Because that’s not how the gospel works. 

I am so thankful that Jesus doesn’t do background checks.  Actually – the most radical thing about the gospel is NOT that Jesus doesn’t do background checks.  Jesus doesn’t need to do background checks because he already knows everything about us.  Even before a word comes out of our mouths, Jesus already knows what we will speak (Psalm 139).  Talk about intimidating!  The perfect Creator of the universe knows every single thought and action of every single person.  There’s nowhere to hide.  And all of us have something to hide.

No, the most scandalous thing about the gospel is not that Jesus doesn’t do background checks.  Rather, it is that Jesus knows us intimately, better than any background check could ever reveal, and yet He still willfully chose to die for us.  He gave up his perfect, sinless life and paid the penalty for our sin.  What a scandalous, undeserved, wonderful love Jesus shows us!

So, I think we will stick with Jesus’ model.  If we only partnered with homeowners who were worthy of our service, SOS wouldn’t exist.  And countless homes in Binghampton and Orange Mound would be in serious need of repair.  But because of the radical, dare I say prodigal, love of Jesus, we are able to make homes warmer, safer, and drier.  And more than that, we are able to proclaim to the world that no matter what your background check reveals, you can be accepted and loved by God through Jesus Christ.