Tony Campolo is a sociologist who traveled to Hawaii. Because of the time change he found himself wide awake in the middle of the night, wandering the streets, and looking for somewhere to eat.
He found a small diner and ordered a coffee and a donut. Soon, a bunch of loud, boisterous prostitutes came in.
He overheard a conversation between two of them. A woman named Agnes was turning 39 the next day. With a series of brash responses, her “friend” shrugged off the idea basically telling her that she could care less. “So what do you want from me? A birthday party?”
Agnes seemed to feel dejected. Soon they both left.
After talking with the owner, Campolo learned that this same group of women came in every night. So he decided to throw Agnes a birthday party! He went out and got some decorations, the owner made a cake, and the owner’s wife spread the news.
Very early the next morning the place was decorated—and it was jam packed with wall-to-wall prostitutes. Everyone was ready and in place by the time Agnes arrived.
“Happy Birthday!” they yelled.
Never had Campolo seen anyone so astounded. She almost lost her balance. And when she heard them sing Happy Birthday, she broke down and wept. She was moved to the core.
After some time of stunned silence, Agnes said she didn’t want them to eat the cake—not yet, anyway. She just wanted to look at it. No one had ever done this for her before. In fact, she asked if she could take it down the street to show her mom who lived nearby. It was her first birthday cake.
I think it’s just a brutal fact of human nature that it’s harder to love someone when we don’t think we have anything in common with them. It seems NATURAL to care about people who are somehow LIKE us—perhaps someone in our family or who has similar hobbies or interests.
So it’s easy to get apathetic to the plight of others.
But Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created human beings in his own image.”
And there’s the thing. We all DO have something in common—nurses, teachers, and postal workers, prostitutes, web designers, and C.E.O.s…
We are ALL made in the image of God.
Our care for others isn’t based on how personally likable they are to us, but on how personally loved they are by God.
By Matthew Ruttan
- Today’s “Up!” is partly based on my Sunday message called “When you don’t love other people.” You can listen in to the 25-minute podcast here.
- Tony Campolo tells this story in his book Let Me Tell You A Story.