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The Evangelist

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The Evangelist

It was one of those events I volunteered to attend in case it was a good idea.  Have you ever tried a
new food or recipe on the chance that you’ll love it?  That’s what this dinner was like:  a group of Christian bikers having a meet-and-eat at an inexpensive restaurant.  A member of their group had visited our church and we connected because of our Harleys.  We were invited to join them that week, and we agreed to go.  It was an opportunity for Bud to hook up with some like-minded bikers.  What I didn’t know was God had an appointment for me that night.

Being life-long hippies, Bud and I fit right in with that group of long-haired, long-bearded Jesus-followers, with the exception of the man who sat across the table from me.  He stuck Bud as a right-wing zealot, but he gave me the creeps.

This guy made John the Baptist look normal.  I swear he had evangelical rabies.  In response to anyone who said “Hi,” he enthusiastically said, “Glad to see you, my brother/sister in the name of Jesus
Christ our Savior,” or something like that. When that was directed at me, I smiled, but thought, “Back off, Jack.”  Among a group of believers, he talked non-stop, quoting Scripture right and left,  proclaiming the gospel of Christ like he was trying to evangelize us.  When a blessing was offered before our meal, this man jumped out of his chair and knelt on the floor.  Talk about overkill.  Talk about not like me.  He wasn’t antagonistic towards anyone, so why did he bother me so much?

I’ve never been mainstream myself.  I lied to fit in at church for years, then gave up trying to please a psychopathic God who promised love, forgiveness, and judgment as a packaged deal. I had a lot of scary men in my history, and didn’t want a God like that, too.

I finally met God through spiritual warfare – not the kind described in the Bible against Satan and the demons, but against God personally.  I assaulted Him or Her with all the weapons in my arsenal.  I wanted to hurt God for hurting me with what I perceived as promised love negated by judgment.  I couldn’t meet the sacred standards of the faithful, and didn’t even want to.  Jesus was a joke and the church proved it, because there was no room in the inn for addicts, sexual sinners, and losers
like me.  But God I wished there was a God for me.

The man across the table shared about his conversion in prison after a life lived on the wild side.
I could relate to that because of my own forty years in the wilderness, lurching in and out of hell, craving what I couldn’t find.  My resurrection was a process, not one single Easter morn.  In my arguments with God, I met the One who loves me unconditionally and was introduced to the precious,
valuable woman I am.  It took a long time for me to trust either of us, but I gradually experienced my own custom-made salvation, not designed for heaven, but for redemption from hell on earth.

When I was willing to lay aside God’s horrible reputation (in my opinion), I found the God I had always wanted was real, and He/She had never judged me like Christians I knew who attacked me with condemnation, sincerely believing they are being faithful followers by hassling anyone they deem are not following the True Faith. I can be so critical of them, more than willing to do unto others as they have done unto me. Fair? No.  Like Jesus?  Not in the least.

And here I was pre-judging this passionate Jesus-follower, who only wants to tell the world what Christ has done for him.  Nothing menacing about that.  He came across as humble, sincere, and
definitely devoted to his calling to spread the gospel.  But I felt threatened by his convictions of
absolute truth, because I’m hazy in that area. I sure as hell didn’t mention my off-center convictions, because I didn’t want to hear the sermon I was sure to come. Did I know this for certain?
No.  Has God commissioned me to determine who’s right and wrong, full of crap or right on target?  Who put me in charge?

You know, this biker even admitted he has lots of questions, but was joyfully sharing his own personal experience with God.  It dawned on me later I had written him off as a dangerous loony simply because he’s outside the cultural norm.  The irony here is that’s exactly how some people view me.  My book, Uncensored Prayer, challenges traditional limitations about what’s appropriate to discuss with God.  I contend that God longs for intimate conversations with us; no topic, feeling, or language is unholy.  Hell, the biker at my table might have been as afraid of my mission as I was of him if I had talked about it.

And God said to me, Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.  The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged  Matthew 7:1-2 (NLT).  Here I was, condemning an innocent man just like a few other people have criticized me just because he’s outside the norm.  Our public styles are very different, but our calling and commitment to the message God has given us is the same.

Ouch.  Humility and confession time.  I may never see you again, fellow evangelist, but I wish you well and thank God I never spoke what I thought.

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About the Author:

I never have found a box that fits me, so I follow Jesus into the wild. My husband, Bud, and I are two life-long hippies, parents of four grown children, and live in Bartlett, TN, with six cats, two dogs, and no TV. We are voracious readers and have loaded bookshelves in every room in the house except the kitchen and bathrooms. As a wordsmith, I write in long-hand everyday and use a computer by necessity. I am part of an eclectic group of Jesus-followers called Outlaw Preachers and have a passion for prison ministry. I am also an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression. My musical tastes include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joni Mitchell, old scratchy-record blues, and the great classical sacred choral works. One other thing: dark chocolate and garlic are major food groups, but not together.

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