Yes, I was warned, but so were they, that was obvious; at least from the beginning…someone new was coming and there were those that weren’t happy about it. In fact, the response was; “you are sending me a (expletive) Bible beater”!!?? As you can tell, I wasn’t the most desirable addition to the Little House on Willow. But, it was my assignment, and like it or not, the table was set and there were two empty chairs.
And one was to be filled by me.
This Little House was filled with…pagans. Yes, I said; pagans.
They were self-absorbed, self-reliant, strong-willed, and very demanding. They could be ruthless to anyone who crossed their path. Yet, in spite of all that, tenderness was just beneath the surface. They bruised easily. After all, they were flesh and blood…
The days and weeks passed and I suddenly found myself in a very precarious situation. I found myself enjoying life with the pagans! Moreover, they appeared to enjoy me…how? Why? I was the “misfit”; I didn’t fit in. After all, I was the Bible beater of the House…
According to what I was taught in church, I wasn’t to mix with the pagans. Oh, it was fine to go and witness, or evangelize; that was acceptable. In fact, I should, it made me look good to God and increased church value. But to live among the pagans, well, that was simply a cause for alarm…
What if I stumbled and fell? What happened if they somehow rubbed off on me? Or worse yet, what if I became like them???
The next three years changed my life.
Did I stumble? Yes, but I don’t need the pagans to do that. I am perfectly capable of on my own.
Did they rub off on me? Absolutely.
Did I become like them? My answer to that is this; I hope so…
This Little House, this wonderful heathen filled house lived…and they lived transparent lives. They were real. They never hid behind masks and truth was never far from their lips. All of the good and all of the bad sat right there in front of you; take it – or – leave it. It made no difference to them.
These people endured difficult times. They endured drugs, divorce, infidelity, and death. Yet these ugly demons could not penetrate the House. They could not take anyone down to the depths…Why?
We were rooted and grounded in love. And when one part of the House suffered; we all suffered.
There were no religious rules in the Little House. We all sat and ate from the same table. We were all equals. No doctrines of men could be found in this Little House.
This was the purest form of church I had ever experienced. Respect and submission mingled with servanthood and love.
And although at the time, many in the House did not know it or understand it~
we were bound by a cord of three strands…
This Little House was contrary to the mainstream church. It is not acceptable to be vulnerable or weak. It is not acceptable to be transparent; to show all the good along with all the bad. And it is certainly not acceptable to enjoy the pagans.
We are to point out their sin and convert them by condemnation.
Jesus chose to live with sinners. In fact, He chose twelve rejects of the mainstream church as His closest friends.
Twelve men, turned away from the mainstream church, chosen by Jesus, the Son of God, to change history.
This group of thirteen men were the church. In fact, they were the first church; functioning as intended; Jesus as the Head, and those with Him learning and attempting to live it out. Not always perfect; but always seeking the right thing and seeking to please the heart of Jesus.
Jesus was a friend to sinners; He was kind and gentle. Always giving them the Truth, but never rejecting them as people. He embraced those that were “unfit”; the woman with the issue of blood- Jesus stood and listened to her whole story while someone of great importance was waiting on Him. He took time with one that was a cast off from society. He ate many a meal with tax collectors, and allowed a prostitute to wash His feet with her hair…
The religious people were stunned at such a life. They didn’t know how to handle One who would give Himself over to “living among the pagans”…
It stirred their emotions to the point of murder.
“He who is without sin, cast the first stone”…
One day while still at the Little House on Willow, I realized I wasn’t living among the pagans. No, I was living out the Kingdom; the Kingdom that Jesus talked about and taught about. The Kingdom that He lived out.
I was tied to these people. It was a cord of three strands….when one stumbled there were many who were there to help him stand again. Free of judgement, free of shame.
We realized we weren’t defined by our iniquities. We were defined by our Head and the life we lived; together in unity, as one body…
Each one as different as the hand and foot…
This is what happens when Love comes down. Unconditional love…Merciful love…
This is what happens when judgement is put aside.
This is what happens when you stop talking and just listen.
This is what happens when you remove yourself from the head of the table...
Love comes down to dwell. And when Love dwells; things change. Lives change.
So my time at the Little House was coming to an end and I had wondered if I had been able to leave a mark of Truth, a mark of Jesus inside those walls.
So, what happened to those pagans?
Well, they were woven into the very fabric of God.
Some were baptized, some were healed, some recommitted themselves to their spouse, some held a Bible study in their home, some shine their light in a dark place, and some just simply found what they had been looking for; Jesus…all of this was simply Jesus.
But in all of this, what was more important was what happened to me; the Bible beater.
I found that I could be transparent too.
I could stumble and they wouldn’t flinch.
I could fall on my face and my faith not be questioned.
I was never judged for my beliefs; they just accepted me; all of me…and that included Jesus.
So, today, my heart longs for the Little House on Willow…because of them I was forever marked for Kingdom living. I was forever ruined for the mainstream church.
For I would much rather Kingdom live as Jesus; among the pagans.
Oh, and that other empty chair…It was filled by Jesus. The true Head of the Little House on Willow.