I seem to get that a lot in recent years. I don't know if it's just the neighborhood that I work or what, but it always seems to be on the weekend. Typically Sunday. And it's always while I'm on my lunch break from work. And it's always, always, always in an aggressive tone.
I'll go out for a meal. I'll go shopping. Just going about my business, relaxing for an hour before heading back to the grind. And out of nowhere some stranger will approach and declare, "Jesus loves you!"
Not, "Jesus loves you," said in a way that makes me feel loved and united in our frail, human experience together. Not in a way that makes me feel my fellow man is compassionate or even concerned over my well being. More like "Jesus loves you" as an alternative to telling me, "Fuck you."
That kind of "Jesus loves you."
"Jesus love you," with the same compassion as one might say, "We should nuke the sight from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
"Jesus loves you," with the sort of generosity that comes from people who refuse to tip their waitress.
"Jesus loves you," like he's drawn a line in the sand and I'm on the opposite side of it.
"Jesus loves you," like I should be waving a white flag.
"Jesus loves you," because it's politer than saying, "You look like the sort of person who deserves eternal damnation in Hell."
I assume this is because of the tattoos on my hands and wrists. Or at least I hope it's that. And more specifically I hope it's not just my face. Because how awful would that be? Somebody's pastor or priest at the end of the ceremony tells his flock, "Go out into the world and spread the good word of God," and these people get behind the wheel of their cars, white knuckle grip, and go cruising around town until they spot... me.
"That asshole. That one right there. He has the face of eternal suffering without relief."
Or maybe I just look like an easy save.
Like maybe they'll say, "Jesus loves you," in that accusatory tone and I'll just suddenly perk up a bit. I'll smile at them and say, "Oh. I was just minding my own business and enjoying this here salad, but now that you've come along I'm really going to rethink my life. What's the address of your church? I'll see you next week! Is there a Saturday service? I can't wait!"
Don't get me wrong. I am absolutely in the midst of a spiritual crisis. Well, maybe not "crisis" as much as "aloofness." I'm not feeling much of any particular belief in my heart and therefore am just ignoring it. I often feel as though my life is without meaning. But I can pretty much guarantee the absolute worst way to save my soul -probably a lot of people's souls- is through this sort of drive by preaching. Saying, "Jesus loves you," like you've been waiting in the bushes and are about to mug me isn't the most effective method of delivering that message.
In fact, you'd probably have much better luck if I happen to see you buying a stranger lunch. Or spending time with your kids. Recycling is always a good one. I love when people do what they can to protect and preserve the planet their lord has created for them. Plant something. Adopting a pet is great. Or bake some cookies and just give them to a friend, neighbor, or even the cashiers in the stores and restaurants who have to work on this lovely you're enjoying. Have a food or clothing drive. Take the time to get to know somebody you've never met. Bonus points if they're from another ethnicity or culture. Just show me you're a good person trying to form a good community. That's spreading the word. That's making a difference. That's just living a fruitful life. One thing I've always said is that I've never once felt God's presence in a church. Whatever I feel, spiritual or otherwise, it's in the individual. It's in the heart and nature of the person.
Alternatively, I suppose you could try kidnapping me. You know, burlap sack over the head. Hands bound. Throw me into your church basement for a few weeks with little food and water. Just a bucket to piss in. Ominous voices reading pages from The Bible outside my cell door but for some reason they refuse to speak directly to me. It might take me a few days to come around, and I'm not too sure what will be in my heart apart from fear, but once I've determined just how committed you are to your cause, I'll definitely become more willing to comply.
Either way it's significantly better than "Jesus loves you!" like you'd rather be saying it with a baseball bat.