I had lunch with Fayette Family Court Judge Tim Philpot last week, and a lot of people wanted to know why.
Philpot and I don't have many, if any, political views in common. We don't travel along the same roads to our life goals.
He is staunchly conservative, and I am proudly liberal. He is anti-abortion, and I believe women should be allowed to choose.
So why did we break bread together? He said I had been on his mind.
I knew what he meant. There are people whose names or faces repeatedly flash before us within a short span of time. If we are in tune with our souls, we know "something" is leading us to interact with them.
Philpot and I had emailed before, planned lunches before. But life always got in the way, a situation neither of us probably was really bummed out about.
But last week, things worked out.
During our meal, in which we each paid our own way, we talked about my daughter, whose work sometimes leads to his courtroom; about his work with Drug Court and my son's addiction and crimes; and about a book Philpot is writing.
Then he mentioned an Easter letter he had written for his friends, much like folks write Christmas letters. But this one, he said, was not about catching up on life's events. It was about his need to reclaim the radicalism he exhibited in the past.
"You wouldn't understand that," he said.
Why wouldn't I empathize with a need to be less safe and more edgy? I have often thought my life is too mundane, too laid-back, bordering on reclusion. In fact, I think my ancestors were far more radical, leaving me an inheritance of freedom that I squander in front of the TV or in my gardens.
I asked him to send me the letter.
Titled "Radical," Philpot's Easter 2012 letter begins with Scripture, Acts 20: 17-21.
That passage, in The Message version of the Bible that Philpot quotes, concludes with Apostle Paul saying, "I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus."
Paul, through his uncompromising discipleship, is urging others to be just as devoted.
In the letter, Philpot says he is disappointed he doesn't eat wisely or exercise more, that he talks too much and listens too little, but what disappoints him most is that he is no longer a radical. "No one calls me 'crazy' anymore," he writes. "I have never been arrested. I am now a respected member of the community."
He notes that a couple of decades ago he was the subject of editorial cartoons for his stances against abortion and pornography and his sermons on the floor of the General Assembly when he was a state senator.
While his actions then weren't as life-threatening as what Paul did in biblical times, Philpot says, they were more than what he does now.
"Now, I find myself playing it straight most of the time," he writes. "I don't mention Jesus inside the courthouse very much, even when I know he is absolutely the only answer to the problem in front of me."
So, the man who sat with me at lunch last week is beating himself up for being so human.
We Christians do that sometimes. We Christians should do that all the time.
My Sunday school class is studying Revelation, the last book of the Bible and the last one I wanted to study.
Our teacher, the Rev. Larry Olinger, insists we must live as though the Rapture — a time when both the living and dead will suddenly rise up to meet Jesus as he returns again — will occur within the next couple of seconds.
Rapture is a good thing.
Those who remain on Earth after the Rapture will endure some hard times, according to the Book of Revelation. Some will have to choose between a very public acceptance of Jesus that will be accompanied by a very public rejection by the world, or they will choose to go along with the crowds.
After reading Philpot's letter, I knew he is where most of us are and where none of us should be. I'm wrestling with that as well.
His internal battles are between being a comfortable Christian and an uncomfortable one. If we Christians are to be more like Jesus, especially during this season of Easter, discomfort should be our norm.
We should be as uncomfortable as the son of God was as he died for our sins.
I don't think Jesus allowed nails to be pounded through his flesh just so we could quietly sit in our homes ignoring how much we are needed outside our neighborhoods.
Philpot concluded his Easter letter by saying that standing up for what he believes in, sacrificing his comfort to help others, and by "going against the grain in law, religion and politics," isn't radical. It is the normal Christian life.
I still can't tell you why Philpot and I had lunch together, knowing how differently we view things.
But in that meeting and after reading his letter, I learned just how similar we are as well.
It is too bad lunches like that don't happen more often in this city, state and country.
Easter would be a good time to start anew.