Thursday, September 1, 2016
His hair looked as if the last time it was brushed, his mom wanted to do it for him. His arms were covered with tattoos. His blue jeans were in style due to wear rather than manufacturing. He wore boots that had lost their shine. His face was covered with a beard that hid his neck. Although he bathed, his appearance camouflaged it. Sunday finery was lost on him! He had been a gang banger until his conversion less than a month before.
Some in the church were uncomfortable around him. Small children were terrified. Teens looked his way and spoke in glanced whispers. Others talked among themselves. Conversations meandered from, “If he was really converted, he would comb his hair and trim his beard” to “If he was really converted, he would shave, comb his hair, and wear some decent clothing. It’s the Christian thing to do!” Some were horrified by his appearance and annoyed by his loud sounding Harley. “What would neighbors think as well as those who passed by?”
Some discovered that in his younger days he had spent time in jail. They knew something had to be done. Either he cleaned up his act or he must go somewhere else! He would ruin their good reputation. Their friends would not want to attend if he was there. He was a negative influence upon their children. He did not fit in. He was not one of them!
The Sunday he brought two of his motorcycle buddies to church with him almost caused a “walk out”! No one else would sit on their pew. There were scattered talking groups that often looked his way void of any love. When his buddies responded to the invitation, seeking to be immersed, several commented under their breath, “Not in OUR baptistry?” Others surmised, “I knew if we accepted one trashy person, others would follow.” Some simply shook their heads in disbelief, hoping some how, in some way, this nightmare would go away!
One Sunday there was a flash that momentarily blinded everyone in the assembly. When all the nay-saying members opened their eyes, they were in unfamiliar surroundings. Where were they? They were in an assembly, but candles produced light rather than electricity. They quickly realized that no air conditioning was available as sweat appeared on their brows. People were looking at them in a strange way. It suddenly dawned on them that they weren’t dressed like everyone else.
Although they knew everyone was speaking Greek, they could understand what was being said. They asked one gentleman where they were and what year it was. The reply shocked them. The year was 60 A.D. and they were in Thessalonica! Although the assembly was shocked by their sudden appearance, they readily accepted them and invited them to share in the bread and fruit of the vine. No one spoke negatively about their clothing nor the way they looked. They were fellow saints and that’s all that mattered. As they looked around and listened, they saw and heard slave owners talking with slaves as brothers in Christ. The slave owners were sharing what they had with those who had brought only themselves. Where culture had once separated them, their faith did not! Several shared the good news of Jesus with the rest. Rich and poor sat together mingling their voices in song. It wasn’t hard to see the love they had for one another. They were also sharing it with them!
Suddenly there was another flash and they were back in 2016 in their assembly. This time, when they looked at the three bikers, their thinking was changed. They realized their attitudes were self-centered rather than Christ-focused. They had viewed others with the wrong lenses and realized that disciples must see one another through the eyes of Jesus.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 (NKJV).