June 23, 2015

Jesus Smelled Like Smoke

Ya’ll, I think if Jesus walked the earth today, He would wreak of smoke. Wanna know why? Because He would hang around Smokers. And Homosexuals. And Alcoholics. And Drug-Addicts. And Liars. And Cheaters. And the Homeless. And the Divorced. And the Lost. And the Hurting. And the Broken. (We don't all smoke, but you get the idea.)

You know I find it interesting that as Believers, we too often represent this guy: “Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side” (emphasis mine). Anyone know where that section of Scripture is from? Anyone? Anyone? (Sorry - I crack myself up sometimes when I write these things.) It’s from the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A Dude (a Jewish Man - which according to racial code in that day, would be the top of the totem pole) was headed on a journey and was mugged. Three guys saw him: A Priest (Jew), a Levite (Jew), and a Samaritan (the bottom of the totem pole in those days). The only one who helped him was the Samaritan (not a lot needs written here - just let that simmer).

The fact that a Priest and a Levite passed by this broken, messed up, dirty, hurting man just kills me. But how often do we do this as we walk into the doors of our churches? We pull into the parking lot, get out of the car, and pass by hurting people almost instantly. Then we make sure to leave a seat or two between "us" and "them". Now I realize most people “fake it”, but some don’t! And are we even trying to see through the masks or are we too comfortable staying clean and put together?

I will never forget the day I encouraged my friend to come back to church. She had been out for a while. Too long. She told me she was coming just as she was. In her t-shirt and basketball shorts. I have no idea what all she had been involved in to that point, I just wanted her in the service. And so I waited in the parking lot. As soon as I saw her pull in, I went running to her and just hugged her. She wreaked of smoke. We walked into the service and I experienced one of the more powerful lessons I have ever been taught by Jesus. While we were singing, both of her hands were in the air. And I sobbed. Why? Because Jesus met her where she was and walked her in the doors and sat her down and just loved on her. How did He do that? Through ME! Ya’ll, I am not tooting my own horn - but c’mon! Don’t we want to be a part of that? Don’t we want to have that kind of legacy???

Bryant and I get invited to a lot of birthday parties that are mainly made up of people who don’t know Jesus. And I LOVE it! Usually they all know we are (drumroll please) “The Pastor and His Wife” (gag), and I don’t like that, mainly because people start to act differently. So I try to set the tone right away. I find the people off to the corner secretly smoking and walk over and introduce myself. I make sure to sit next to the designated “atheist” family member and engage in conversations about everything but church. I do what I need to do to establish a connection because isn’t that what Jesus did?

I think we fear “the others” because we don’t want to be associated with the mess. We don’t want to get messy. What will the other Believers think? That I’m condoning the behavior? That I’m participating? Won’t the person I’m with think it’s okay to live a certain way? Don’t I just need to tell them the Truth?

Oh my sweet brothers and sisters. Have we forgotten the Gospel? The Gospels? Where Jesus modeled building relationships and fostering trust? Where Jesus met people right.where.they.are? Where he cared for them and not His own reputation? He didn’t cater to the expectations of the religious. He ministered to the broken. And that’s what I want to do. I’ve lived too long listening to my fear and not to the voice of Jesus. I’ve been more interested in people knowing first off that I don’t agree with their lifestyles before they know I actually love them. I’ve pushed people closer to Hell than to Jesus. And I’m over it.

You want to join me? It’s uncomfortable. I don’t always get it right. But I make sure to always smell like smoke. Cause I think Jesus did too.

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