Where is Jesus in this story?

Jay lives in Denver, Colorado and leads the Mile High Vineyard. Their spiritual community was planted by hosting parties and connecting to people by being with people in their lives. Mile High just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Much of their journey has involved many baptisms. Today the majority of their community, of around 500 people, are new followers of Jesus. Jay was telling us one of the stories I thought worth passing on.

There were several of them out in the community at a physic fair one evening. One of the women they met there was a Lesbian. She introduced herself to Jay, knowing he was a pastor, and immediately said to him, “So i am going to hell for being a Lesbian aren’t I?”

Jay told her his name and began to dialogue with her not answering her question. He shared some of his story and himself with her hoping to dial her back to the point of relationship. Out of that evening she agreed to let him meet with her to read the parables of Jesus to learn what Jesus was really like for herself.

They had met several times together going through various parables when one day they hit a wall in her response to the Jesus worldview. Jay was reading the parable in Matthew 18 of the “Unforgiving Servant” when his new friend had a strong emotional reaction.

,The parable is the story of a King who had a servant who owed him much and could not pay. The King ordered the servant, his wife and children to be sold. The Servant fell on his face and begged for patience and more time to repay his debt. The parable goes on to say that the King felt compassion, forgave him and released him from his debt. The Servant now forgiven, went home and met with a fellow servant who owed him a small debt. When his fellow servant could not pay his small debt he took him by the throat and demanded he repay his debt. When the fellow servant asked for patience and time to repay his debt he refused. He had his fellow servant thrown in prison until he could repay his debt. Word got back to the King and he brought in this wicked servant and put him in jail until he could pay all he owed.

As Jay’s new friend read this parable she was upset and burst out saying, “I can not forgive those Christians who bash and protest against the gay lifestyle!” It was a watershed moment in her discovery of the life of Jesus. They spent some time talking through her emotional response to this Jesus parable.

It was about a month or two later when this women was working at her job at Starbucks in Denver one afternoon. As she was going about her routine she noticed a group of Christians outside with signs protesting the gay and lesbian lifestyle. There were a number of people with signs saying “God hates Gays” or “Gays and lesbians are going to hell” and like signs. This women’s emotional response was frustration, anger and pain. She wanted nothing to do with them and wanted them stopped in her heart. As she continued working the parable of the unforgiving servant, that her and Jay had read through months earlier, came racing through her heart and mind.

She pondered and wrestled with it. Eventually she found her herself making coffees and cutting up muffins to put on a tray to go and serve the people carrying these signs. She freely wandered through the group of protesters giving them free coffee and muffins with them never knowing who she was or her internal wrestle. She later phoned jay to tell him what had happened.

I guess it leaves us with the question, “Where is Jesus in this story?”.

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on November 11, 2011.

3 Responses to “Where is Jesus in this story?”

  1. Sad but sobering story – fitting for Remembrance Day. There is a segment of Christians who think it is appropriate, and even an act of love, to frighten unbelieving people with the reality of hell, hoping that they will then decide to run into the arms of God – as if some one would seriously want to spend eternity embraced by an all-powerful, judgemental and enraged Parent who resembles the protesters. I know Jonathan Edwards used this approach in the Great Awakening – after which he saw assumed converts return back to business as usual. Fear and selfishness are lousy motivators.

    Where is Jesus in this story? When the messengers are so different from the real message who can possibly see Jesus through the smoke screen? I’m guessing when our methods of evangelism look very little like Jesus’ and His disciples, we don’t feel much like Jesus or real Christians either. It strikes me that the protest group in this account is essentially trying to get unbelieving people to act selfishly, for the sake of self-reservation, and to change their sexual orientation in order to go to Heaven. Interesting – and we wonder why consumerism is such a problem in the Church. How many decades or centuries of kids have grown up in churches that merely sold fire insurance and avoided helping people discover, know and love God and others – including enemies? But to be courteous to our enemies, like a 1914 Christmas Eve cease-fire, and ignore God is also missing the point of life, and avoiding the real sacrifice of our own egos. We are all in grave danger of believing our own spin on reality and ending up in hell – the narrow path to heaven is for the humble, for the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

    Secretly, many Christians are terrified of hearing God say to them: “I never knew you – go”. Similarly, I think many conversations in hell will contain the sentiments: “I chose to never know Him.” I don’t know what hell will be like, but I can’t imagine it being worse than parts of Europe and Asia during World War 1. I don’t often think of what it will be like for people to have conversations in hell, but it might do us some good to know people will definitely be saying: “If only Christians had been more like Christ I may have understood God’s heart and plans for me.” Did Jesus teach that the sadness, anger and gnashing of teeth in hell would not be justified anger against abusive “Christians”? Seems to be that our lack of love and personal concern and assistance are big reasons now why people say that they don’t want to have anything to do with the Church – why would that change after judgement? Maybe Lewis was right – the door of hell will be locked from the inside. The good news is that the whole Missional Church Movement might be considered as a repentance movement, a second change for many of us. This is God’s renewal gift in our time to bless unbelieving people by righting many wrongs in us Christians. Maybe, after and much sacrifice and service, we will earn the right to be heard. And then we will feel like, and have confidence that we are actually disciples and followers of Christ.

  2. Transforming her from the inside out.

  3. […] Where is Jesus in this story? […]

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