I’ve known him for the better part of 30 years. I first met him on the streets in the city’s downtown when my dad introduced me to this heavily tattooed man. I was in awe. Not with fear, but rather fascination. Back then, ink wasn’t nearly the commonality that it is today. He was a biker and rode an infamous trike – custom from front to back with gadgets and gizmos galore. Even a small rocket launcher…pretty sure it didn’t work but I was never one to be in front of him in traffic.
We were out for coffee recently. His life hasn’t been a cakewalk by anyone’s imagination. He’s done film and video with some big names in the past, but found himself living in his car for a few years – out of necessity, not choice. As we talked, the years of hard living and societal rejection weighed heavy. He has such a hard exterior, but when the light shines through the cracks, you can see the tenderness deep inside. I invited him to attend church with me and he agreed. We prayed together in the coffee shop and he asked me, “What will people say to me if they see me at church?” I replied, “I hope they say ‘You want a cup of coffee?’” Just a couple weeks ago another tattooed friend came to Jesus and was immediately baptized. And he is loved.
I recently learned of a friend’s niece who attended another church for the first time in years. She muscled through her depression and severe anxiety to enter through the doors of what should be the most welcoming place in the world. She was told to leave and not come back because of her tattoos and she was wearing jeans. My friend cried as she shared the story. It’s completely unlike Jesus.
Two similar circumstances. Two strikingly different reactions. One, I believe to be bible based, the other burdened under the façade of religion. Taking a look at God’s word, I think we can see which is which (emphasis mine):
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Isaiah 1:18 ESV
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
Romans 5:8 ESV
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
My God is for you. Jesus himself declared in Luke 5:32 “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” How can anyone come to a real relationship with Jesus if we don’t even let them in the door?
Will you accept others as God has accepted you?
Come As You Are by David Crowder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2zhf2mqEMI