I was at a district meeting last week and overheard a fellow pastor talking about his motorcycle. As a rider myself, my ears perked up (especially when he was describing his custom Harley soft tail). I joined in the conversation and quickly realized the gaping mouths of other clergy around the table as they listened to two ordained individuals talk about riding motorcycles, hanging out with those “types” of people, wearing leather, etc. The District Superintendent probably had a coronary when I shared the fact that my helmet was decorated with pink skulls wearing pigtails. Yea, I guess this other clergy and I are rebels!
It’s always been interesting to me the way people act around me when the realize I’m clergy. Someone can be cursing up a storm and then when I share my profession, you’d think they were a completely different person (actually, I’m usually relieved because who wants to hear ugly language all the time!!). Likewise, when I am cruising around on the bike and happen to converse with other bikers, they seem so shocked that I’d be on a bike . . . as if I’m automatically part of “Hell’s Angels” because I’m on a bike. I love rock and roll music and I go to at least one concert a year (I play bass, love the rock rhythms, and enjoy the beat) and when I run into a church family there they look at me like I have four heads.
I’ve always been of the thought that my environment will not taint me or persuade me, but I will do my best to influence and persuade my environment. I am very capable of going to a club and not drinking. I am more than able to attend a rock concert and refrain from cursing, drinking, and acting a fool. I can certainly ride a bike among the roughest riders around and be able to love them as brothers and sisters in Christ (even if they don’t return that sentiment). I may be naive, but I guess I figure I could rub off on others – if I live a life of grace, then it will spread to those around me! So why would I live my life sheltered only among those who know this life of grace already? Why would I not go out and live that life among those who NEED to know grace for themselves? Actually, Jesus was a rebel in many ways. Would I step out on a limb and be a rebel for Christ? Absolutely! He gave me a great example to follow!
You’d be surprised how often I’ve ended up in faith based conversation with others in the most challenging places (bars, restaurants, hiking, auto service shops, concerts). It’s as though the minute they hear I’m clergy a light goes off in their head and they either feel they need to confess their lack of faith to me and pour their heart out, or they begin to argue with me to denounce my faith (or either ask me to prove my faith to them). This opens a door for me that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. To be among those who are seeking is what I feel we are called to do. So, I’m doing it!
As I write this I’m aware I may offend some who find it inappropriate for a clergy person to ride motorcycles or listen to rock music. I can do nothing to change your opinion of me based on that information. What I can assure you of, however, is that my Lord is with me no matter where I’m going, no matter what environment I find myself in. My constant prayer is that God will open the doors that need to be opened with whoever crosses my path so that I can share that beautiful grace with any who need to hear about it, to know it and embrace it.
Friends, we are heading into Lent this week. Instead of giving up chocolate, soda, or whatever you typically try to “give up,” why not choose to “open up” instead? Is there someone you know who is lost and looking for something, maybe looking for peace in their lives? Is this person someone who says they are a Christian, but hasn’t been to church in years? Perhaps you know of someone who is going through a very difficult time and you pray for them daily knowing that God is the answer to their healing. Whoever you just thought of as you read those words, why not make it your Lenten offering to reach out to them in a meaningful way? Invite them to church. Pray WITH them and not just for them. Give them a Bible. Write them notes and include Scripture in them. Help light the path for them.
Whatever you choose to do for Lent, just remember that God calls us to GO and make disciples. This is a VERB – it’s not “sit here” and make, it’s GO and make. This requires us to sometimes put ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable. And, really, when does God ever want us comfortable!? 😉
Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”