I have been drinking a lot of water lately because the experts say that this is good for me. I can attest that it does almost always make me feel better. The only exception to this is when there is not an accessible bathroom.
Last week I drank 32 ounces of water then had to kill a few hours downtown near Pioneer Square. I “held it” as long as possible, but eventually, I could no longer take the pain of waiting. Knowing that there was not a plethora of easily accessible public bathrooms around I darted into the nearest department store and rushed to find the bathroom. As I hustled around the store looking for the men’s room I got the impression that the employees were evaluating my merits as a paying customer. I needed “to go” too bad to care.
About an hour later I needed to use the bathroom again. I did not wait for emergency status this time and went into the first department store within site. This department store was more of a high-end store than the previous and thus had a locked bathroom that needed a code to be unlocked. I went to the nearest worker and asked for the code and she, without hesitation, gave me the code. After I had used the bathroom I headed for the doors. As I was leaving the store I started to muse about why she had so willingly given me, a non-paying customer, the bathroom code. I figured it was because I was wearing my new Christmas sweater, trendy jeans, and hip shoes. I looked like a customer.
As I walked out into the cold streets and towards my car I could not help but wonder if the people I saw – ta couple with back packs holding all they owned, the woman with her dog who had clothes on that had not been washed in a long time, and guys with dirt on their face sitting on top of a brick wall holding a sign – would have been allowed to use the bathrooms I had used. My guess was no. My wondering mind continued down a winding path until I had the thought, “I bet they wouldn’t have let Jesus go to the bathroom in there. He was homeless at times, probably didn’t have a place to wash his clothes.”
I relay this thought to you not to start a debate on whether department stores should alter their bathroom policies or whether the city of Portland needs more public restrooms. Instead, I relay it as a reminder to us as Christians that we need to be careful in how we evaluate people. If we determine someone’s worthiness based on their clothing, smell, or current living situation then we are in danger of deeming Jesus unworthy. My hope is that Christians will evaluate people in a way that deems Jesus worthy of going in a bathroom.