THE OUTCAST KINGDOM.
by George Elerick
I think God doesn’t like rich people. I think the affluent really frustrate Him. Or maybe, just those
who have a lot and don’t use it to help others. Sometimes, I think the word frustrated might even
fail at the disgust that the Creator feels when His creation neglects those in need.
There were these two ancient cities in Palestine that were destroyed completely. For most,
we may have been taught that Sodom and Gomorrah were reduced to rubble because of their
promiscous lifestyle, but the prophet Ezekiel had a different opinion. He would say that the people of God
were bed-fellows with them by doing what they did; they had resources to
help the poor and did nothing. That we saw a person in need and walked on by. Or maybe for you,
it might have been that you recently met an AIDS victim of which you chose not to shake their
hand because you were afraid you might catch something. Or for another, maybe it was the
condemning remarks under your breath as a gay couple passed by. Jesus invites us to love them
all unconditionally. To see them as He sees them — fully forgiven. He did and still does that for us.
John, a family member of Christ, records a story where Jesus meets up with a woman, who let’s say didn’t have the
best reputation in town. She was caught by some Jewish pastors breaking some laws within their culture and they try
to get her killed. As the story goes, Jesus forces them off the scene. And then what happens next is so transformational
it could only be a mysterious thing called grace. He says, without her asking for it, “your sins are forgiven”. Wow!
She didn’t even ask or beg for it, Jesus just gave it. He handed it over without a manual. In fact, read some more stories
where Jesus interacts with sinners and you will see this same kind of shameless behavior by our Creator’s son. Can you
believe it! He just gives away forgiveness. He restores people without them earning it. This is not fair! They should have to earn it!
Yet, Christ reacted the same way to us and calls us to react the same way to others. Nestled in the pages of the ancient
writings of our fellow Christ-followers is this short dialogue between Christ and his intrigued Jewish audience. He talks to
them about a stone that the builders rejected becoming a cornerstone. First-century Christians might have thought
Jesus was talking about Himself, but actually, within the Aramaic context of scripture what Jesus was really saying was
something most subversive. He was really saying that the outsiders and the rejected — those are the ones
who are going to make up the Kingdom of God. The ones you are purposefully excluding are the ones who will hold up
what I am about! Wow! Quite uncomfortable talk for a people who thought they were the “chosen” ones. Jesus was really
saying that the outcast is really important, and that we are all equal because we all used to be the outsider. We must
somehow keep a sense of the outsider inside of us. We must embrace a sense of our lostness so Christ could come
and find us. We must rediscover our ever-growing need for God. And it’s never too late to start now!