No “Perfect” People Allowed
By Jimmee Hicks of Chattanooga, TN, USA
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? —1 John 3:14, 16–17 NRSV
For 1646 days, I was a homeless man. Why was I homeless this long? My drug addiction led me there. I am four semester hours away from my master’s degree. I knew better than to involve myself with drugs.
I started drugs in college when I was 24 years old. My dad was a doctor, and my mom was a nurse. My drug dependency caused them to feel like failures as parents and die of broken hearts. I am now 50 years old. Drugs have taken up more than half my life. STAY AWAY FROM ALL DRUGS. There is nothing good about them.
My addiction made it impossible for me to work, so I found myself homeless and sick. Then an old friend named John Walker invited me to his church, the Chattanooga Community of Christ. The church started my life in a whole new direction. They treated me like I mattered.
Instead of focusing on my sins, they affirmed my worth. I was homeless, addicted, and living in abandoned houses with rats—yet all I ever heard from them was about me being priceless. The pastors care more about me than they do themselves. At this church, we admit we are imperfect. In fact, on my first visit there, I heard the pastor say, “No perfect people are allowed.”
Today, I have my apartment. I am getting medical treatment. Drugs and I parted company more than a year ago. I now lead a newly planted cell group for our church. In my need to give back to the community, I invite a minimum of 10 people each week to our church. Many respond and many are regular participants and members. In January, I am going to start online classes to complete my degree.
How did all this finally happen? A supporting community kept me focused on God and my mission. I still wake up every day feeling like the most blessed person there is. Never in my old life did I humble myself enough to say, “I love you,” to God, and now I can. It is my desire to help every person I meet experience a great support group like my congregation, who can show them God is wildly in love with them.
Prayer for Peace
God, thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you, also, for people who love us as we are. Thank you for the community which helps us share Christ’s peace.
Spiritual Practice: Experience Congregations in Mission
Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 164:9a–d. Reread the sentence, “If you truly would be Community of Christ, then embody and live the concerns and passion of Christ.” Make a list of the issues you feel mattered most to Christ. Make another list of issues that matter to your congregation. Reflect on the likenesses and differences. How can you help align the lists? Throughout the day, as issues arise, ask yourself, “Would this matter to Christ?”
Today, God, I will thank you for your love and share it with another.