Tony Campolo loves to tell a good story. One of my favorites is the one he tells of the time he came home late from a speaking engagement. He had taken the bus so he was dropped off in downtown Philadelphia. It wasn't a very good place to be at night. Even during the day people avoided the area. And sure enough, Tony hadn't gone ten steps before somebody stepped out of the darkness behind him.
He could feel the weapon at his back. A voice demanded his wallet. Tony's not about to do anything foolish, so he hands over his wallet. He can hear the robber rummaging through it. And suddenly the man gets very upset!
"Three dollars?!" he says. "You've only got three dollars in your wallet? What do you do for a living anyway?"
"Well," says Tony, "I'm a Baptist preacher."
"Hey! That's great!" the man says, "I'm a Baptist!"
Thieves come in all kinds, don't they? There's the kleptomaniac who needs to pick up little things wherever she goes. There's the high-tech computer expert who can manipulate the electronic signals that manage our credit card balances, and siphon off our money into his account. There's the famous Robin Hood, who stole from those usurpers to the throne of King Richard the Lionhearted, and gave the goods to the poor people of the realm.
There's the German Nazi conspiracy, that systematically robbed the entire European Jewish population of eyeglasses, and gold teeth, and pocket watches, and art treasures, and businesses, and families, and bank accounts, and life itself.
There's the neighborhood gang of thieves that targets a dark home, and makes off with all the best of your goods in the silence of the night.
There are the rioters on the streets of Detroit, and New York, and Los Angeles, who use the chaos of racial turmoil to loot downtown stores.
There's the office worker who takes home supplies, like staplers, calculators and computer diskettes.
There's the couple who uses a friend's pass to get into Holland State park for a little sunbathing, or a picnic on the beach.
There's the Mafia and the Cosa Nostra who make thievery a big business.
There's the child who slips a pack of gum into her pocket at Anchorage Party store, and "forgets" to pay for it when she walks out.
There's the man who rewrites the figures of his income on his tax returns, and manages to "save" a little money. Thieves come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they look a lot like us, like the people you're sitting next to today.
And sometimes they seem like strangers who violate us, like when we come home from vacation to a ransacked home. The front door is jimmied. The stereo and television are missing.
At first you're cautious ... What if someone is still in the house? But then you get angry! What kind of a creep would do something like this? And then, when you get to your bedroom, and the jewelry box is smashed on the floor, and someone has rummaged through your closets, fondling your clothes, you begin to feel naked, and violated, and raped.