Friday, March 3, 2017

REDISCOVERING WORTH - A TALE OF 3 MOTORCYCLES


    I remember a time when I was given 3 motorcycles that had been left in an abandoned storage facility.  None of them ran, nor were they titled.  At one time, these bikes came off an assembly line with hope and promise.  Each bike was crafted with a specific purpose in mind.  All three bikes were good for transportation and fun.  Each bike went from the factory to a person entrusted with it's care, maintenance and proper use, ensuring each bike fulfilled it's destiny.  Somewhere along the line, these bikes each became neglected and mistreated by the person entrusted with their care.  Each bike apparently malfunctioned because of improper care.  These bikes had no power of their own to maintain themselves properly, yet when they no longer worked as designed, they were declared worthless by their caretakers.  Mishandled, these bikes became erratic in their behavior.  The owners were either abusive, negligent, or simply not equipped to own and maintain a motorcycle.  As each motorcycle began to "misbehave", none of the owners seemed willing to take responsibility, all three owners told these bikes, once their pride and joy, they were worthless.  All three owners cast these bikes out and abandoned them because they did not meet expectations.  Possibly having a bike was not exactly as they had envisioned.  


     As outcasts, these bikes sat in an abandoned storage pod with other cast offs and broken items deemed worthless by those entrusted with their care.  As so often is the case, these broken cast offs found their way to each other. Now, obviously, these bikes are inanimate objects without thought of feeling, but for the sake of analogy, imagine these were sentient creatures with the power of thought and emotion.  Imagine what the neglect, misuse and dissatisfaction of the owners would do to these bikes.  Imagine what "life" was like for these three as they are declared worthless by those who should have loved and cared for them. Imagine the hurt and bewilderment as they are abandoned and left as if they never existed.  Imagine how that would sit together, yet alone, year after year believing they somehow failed or stewing in anger and feeding off of each other's misery.  

    Sadly, and devastatingly so, there are many people who have this same story.  Babies born with God given purpose and design, often  to parents who are excited and hopeful, yet ill equipped and selfish.  Some are born into hostile environments where they are unwanted from the beginning.  After a life of neglect, abuse and improper parenting, many of these babies grow up resentful, rebellious and worst of all, hurt... deeply hurt.  Broken by the ones entrusted with care and nurturing, these broken children grow into broken adults.  Because of behavioral issues or attitudes born of bad parenting, these broken children are declared worthless or "troubled".  Cast aside by society, many of these naturally gravitate to others who have been similarly treated and worse behaviors and attitudes manifest. When a person believes he is worthless, he is without hope and behaves worthlessly.  

      Mainstream society and church shuns those with tattoos, piercings and multicolored hair.  It becomes easier for people to ignore those who are different and pretend no problem exists. The broken and distrustful often gravitate to the fringes of society and the mainstream church seems content to leave them there.  What mainstream society and churches do not realize is that those with the hardest shells often built those shells in response to deep harm caused by those who were entrusted with love and care.  A hard shell ensures no one else gets in to cause harm.  Jesus came to seek that which was lost, is that not what the church is to be doing also?  We cannot just build a building and start preaching and expect people to show up, we have to go to where the people are.  What we have is a message of hope, the message is worthless if it is not shared.  

     Thankfully, the story of the motorcycles does not end with abandonment in a warehouse.  Two of those bikes were actually able to fulfill their original purpose and intent.  One was worked on and able to run and given to a family member, another was given to an immigrant who needed transportation.  These bikes were not able to rebuild themselves or suddenly start up and ride off into the sunset, they needed help and care.  Once they received the help and care necessary, they were able to fulfill the role for which they were designed.  So many people are just like these bikes, not ever realizing that they have potential or that anyone even cares about them.
  
     If the church is not willing to go to the fringes of society to rescue the lost, there will be no rescue of the lost.  And  by the church, I am not talking about the First Baptist Church of Whatever, I am talking about you and me, the Body of Christ, fulfilling our calling and purpose.  No one is worthless, no one is forsaken of God, so why is the church content with allowing whole segments of society believe they are worthless and forsaken?  Part of the reason is this kind of ministry is messy.  Our cookie cutter ideas of what faith and sanctification should look like does not match this kind of ministry.  We too often think salvation should come with a suit, tie and a haircut when sometimes salvation means new tattoos and different t-shirt.  

       Like many people, these bikes were made with care and specific purpose, but, due to the negligence and mistreatment of others, sat in obscurity.  There are many people who, though fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving creator, were mistreated and neglected, cast aside and forgotten, or simply ignored. This mistreatment often leads to poor choices which only serve to magnify feelings of alienation.  The church cannot... must not, ignore those who are hurting or deemed worthless by holier than thou hypocrites. The church, which is you and me, must step up and step out and seek what was lost and what was cast aside and what was deemed worthless by corrupt and sin addled society.  

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