The Trouble Is Those OTHER People – Reasons NOT to Follow Jesus (part 5)

Let’s be honest. One of the biggest reasons NOT to follow Jesus is the company He keeps. I mean, really, He lets anyone in.

Imagine standing in line for the hottest ticket in town – entrance to Studio Eternal Life. You’ve met the owner and He’s given you the password, the name that assures you will be one of the fortunate few allowed to pass through the velvet rope past the burly man with the rippling biceps.

“Jesus”, you repeat to yourself. He’s my ticket inside.

As you wait, you look at the others in line. You begin to guess who else may have access to the name. Several people seem a lot like you so you’re certain they’re getting in. Others are people you would like to be, so they are probably in, too.

But then there are many, sort of, undesirables waiting, too. People who would be buzzed off in the first round of The World’s Got Talent. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen the ones. Before they even open their mouths onstage you just know it’s going to be a freak show. So, on the one hand, you feel kind of sorry for them but on the other hand, you shudder at the thought of spending eternity with their kind.

Then the line begins to move and you smile as several people like you pass through the rope but suddenly, one of the cool kids is turned away and three low-life’s gain entrance to your desired destination. What’s up with that? You glance around and notice others are flustered at this obvious administrative snafu. You’d think there wouldn’t be any computer errors in this line!

Now, you’re watching carefully and you realize you can’t reliably predict who will gain access and who won’t. You don’t see any money changing hands. Everything seems very above board. And the closer you get, you can even hear people as they mumble quietly either “I’m sure I deserve to be here. Look on your list. My name is . . .” Or, as you are prepared to say “I couldn’t dream of entering in my own name. I come in the name of Jesus alone.”

What could this possibly mean? Could it be that heaven is going to be full of people you wouldn’t have dreamed of associating with on earth?

What if you run into people you’ve snubbed? What if there are some whose suffering you blatantly ignored? What if you have to spend eternity worshipping with those impossibly annoying hand-wavers or that weird guy with the toupe and white alligator shoes that match his giant King James Bible?

You start thinking that probably it would have been a good idea to get some practice in before this big day – practice loving people so different from you.

Then, just inside the door as you’re still mulling over how you’re going to adjust to the mixed crowd gathered before you, you catch someone staring, wide-eyed in your direction.

“What!?” The person exclaims, pointing at you. “How did you get in here?” Then you watch her hurry off after a bright spirit asking “Am I seriously expected to spend eternity with people like that?”

Well, it’s not going to happen that way probably but you get my point, right? Jesus, He’s cool. The Bible is full of great stuff and studying it and praying are awesome ways to spend time but loving the CHURCH, yeah, no thanks, have you MET these people? They are NOT easy to love.

But, loved ones, that’s exactly what we’re called to do – love the strange, peculiar freak-show collection of fellow worshippers that gather at Jesus’ feet. The bee-hive hairdo cat glass lady with the bleeding ear soprano must love and be loved by the barefootliving Africandrumplaying vegan who will only worship at a coffee shop or outdoor venue. The Chinese pastor who has spent half his career in prison, separated from his family who scrounge and starve without him in Jesus’ name must love and be loved by the Southern Baptist preacher who drives a new Caddie every three years and is about to experiment with a golfing tournament outreach ministry. Our differences go way deeper than hymns or praise music, hands up or knees down. Jesus really knows how to draw a mixed crowd.

Revelation 7:9-10 (NIV) says “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

You think you know what that will look and sound like but I promise you, it is beyond our imagination right now. I can promise this because we don’t even seem to have enough imagination to figure out how to love the Christian in the next pew. But, we’d better start applying some Holy Spirit inspired creativity in that direction, people, because eternity is a long time to spend with someone you avoided on earth.

So, drop out now if you’re not up for loving the crazies, the outcasts, the peculiar, the stiff-necks, the scowlers, the gigglers, the liberals, the fundamentalists, the charismatics, the unwashed, the hard to love and the irritating. And drop out now if you can look in the mirror and not think you’re one of them.

Following Jesus is not for people with weak stomachs, small hearts or anemic imaginations. We are a hard people to love and we love hard in return because we follow Jesus and He welcomes all kinds – even us.


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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Wow…I am continually amazed, and blessed by your blog. What fantastic insight…loved it!

  2. Yes, I think we’ll all be in for some surprises. LOL-“How did you get in here?”

  3. Cheri says:

    Oh, so true! Great post, Lori!

    Hugs,
    Cheri

  4. Carmen says:

    I’ve often thought about this, but from a bit of a different perspective; in light of Matthew 7:21-23. Things are so seldom how they seem to be. Lord have mercy!!