In my previous blog I talked about outward appearances and I am going to start by picking up that thread again and take it in a slightly different direction. If you are a reader who knows me now but not in my teenage years, you might be rather surprised that I went through a phase when I wore a leather jacket with a good few studs decorating in. I hung round with the bikers crowd – not the ‘sissy’ Mods. This has been startling information to some over the years since and I mean no disrespect to anyone that was a ‘Mod’, or anyone who preferred the Beatles to the Rolling Stones!
Looking back I can see that my change of appearance had an impact on number of folks in my then home church, I became someone to be wary of and probably keep at arm’s length. In fairness I ought to say that I do not believe that would be the case today; God can change people and he can change churches, thank goodness I say – there is no comparison between the churches of the 18th century to the 21st. Well, tongue in cheek, perhaps there are one or two exceptions. Our attitudes towards other people shapes the way we treat them and it shapes the way we organise outreach or mission strategies. There were several dear ladies in that past home church that ran an off-site coffee bar for teenagers, all were welcome be they Mods or Rockers or anywhere else on the youth spectrum. The love, compassion and acceptance of those ladies towards all who used the facility had a big impact on me which will always remain with me.
The church in question invited a young man to come and speak to the fellowship and to share his journey of faith with them. This chap had attracted the attention of the long arm of the law and he had ended up in Wandsworth Prison and there he met with God and left prison a changed man. A short while later he was being ordained in a London church and a one of the lady members in the church asked if I would go with her. Being quite intrigued, I said yes and so we travelled down to London on the train and she paid for everything – of course I had no money! Together we sat, me in my leather jacket and she cared not one jot and she used a little of the journey to talk to me about the love of Jesus.
I was on a bus with a lady I knew some years ago, not in this country, a man got on the bus and he was dirty, unwashed and unshaven. He wore a filthy coat that had seen better days and clutched a bag tightly as if it held all he possessed. My companion made a comment about him which shocked me referring to him and those of the same circumstances as ‘low life’. While I admit that it is not possible to pounce on all and sundry to try and give them some help – and there are those that wouldn’t take it – it is not a phrase that Jesus would have us use. In fact sometimes those that try to help get sneered at by them and called ‘do-gooders’, ‘bible-bashers’ or a great deal worse. One Sunday I was standing on the steps of a town centre church talking to others when a well known alcoholic shuffled past. He looked up at those of us on the steps and sneered, “look at you all in your sartorial elegance”. Mind you, he wasn’t averse to taking food offered though he, of course, preferred cash.
My need of a Saviour is as great as his, if he did but know it. We all need the Jesus who mixed with sinners, tax collectors, the rich and the poor, the sick and the well; the one who says to us “come as you are” – even if you are rejected and despised by the rest of society, or perhaps wear a leather jacket decorated with studs. If that is the Son of God then I say ‘rock on’.