To the best of my recollection, in all of my 51 years of life thus far the only places I have ever actually been kicked out of are a funeral and a Bible college cafeteria. Mind you, I do not recount these things for you with any anger. I actually do so with the laughter still rolling inside of me as I think on those things, as I am fairly certain that no one else in the entire history of mankind can truthfully claim to have been kicked out of both a funeral and a Bible college cafeteria.
I’m No. 1.
I should tell you, I suppose, that I was not preaching the funeral that I was kicked out of. I merely arrived to pay my respects to the family. I have heard of a few true stories through the years where a preacher stood up and preached a funeral and said something like, “this dude is in hell, and all of you are going too!” and found himself dragged out, but as tempting as such a thing may be from time to time, I have never and would never do such a thing.
The Bible college cafeteria expulsion was over a necktie, or rather the lack thereof. I was not a student, I was actually a pastor at the time, and was helping to build a church building, and thus was not wearing dress clothes on that day. I had eaten there many times before as such, as had their own maintenance men, but be that as it may, I was asked to leave for lack of a tie.
Please, please, please do not misunderstand me. All of this was many years ago, and my irrepressible sense of humor not only keeps me from being angry at either of those things, it actually makes my day now as I think back on them. Again, who has the bad-boy “street cred” I do when it comes to being kicked out of things? I have often thought perhaps of starting my own biker gang based on my experiences. If I do, I will likely call my gang The Hecks Angels. In order to prove your worthiness for being in my gang, you will need to get a librarian to “shush” you, cross the street somewhere other than in the designated crosswalk, and hand someone several dollars in change with all of the bills turned different directions.
And our theme song as we ride our Hondas will be “Born To Be Mild.”
“Get your motor warmed up, head out on the highway, but before you cross it, be sure to look both ways, yeah, darlin, gonna wear our helmets, not gonna act like we’re in a race, use our blinkers not just once, and we’ll give other people space...”
Message me for an application if you are interested in joining the gang. Weekly meetings will be at a Bojangles somewhere.
As “deeply hurtful” (he wrote with a grin) as the memories of my unceremonious expulsions were, they do also turn my thoughts to One far greater than me who faced far greater rejection than I will ever know. His name was Jesus, and of him, John 1:11 says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Luke 4:29 goes so far as to say that at one point they, “thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.”
To say that Jesus was often very forcefully rejected would be an epic understatement.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He did not say, “I have come for you, and you will be mine, you have no choice in this matter.” His entire life and ministry were marked by simply offering himself to whosoever will, and allowing himself to either be received or rejected.
The good news is, right after John spoke of those who rejected Christ, he immediately mentioned those who received him, saying in John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Jesus offers himself to everyone. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 tells us that he died for all. 1 John 2:2 tells us that he is the propitiation (meaning that which turns away the anger of God) for the sins of the whole world. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Christ does and will offer salvation and kinship to you, to everyone, through his shed blood.
But whether you receive or reject him is on you. Not one single person will be in hell because Jesus did not want them; they will, one and all, be there because they did not want him.
If you want him, I would be mighty glad to tell you how to receive him.
In the meantime, if you will excuse me, I need to go work on the logo for my biker gang. I am thinking of something like a book with dog-eared pages instead of bookmarks.