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wine picSometimes I go to the liquor store. Sometimes I go and simply “hang out” for a bit, talking to the owner and her employees while mulling over the goods…

Surprised… Only if you are what they call “religious”.

It just doesn’t seem like the “kosher” place for a christian woman to go and spend time.

Jesus had a difficult time with the “religious people”.  He called them snakes and broods of vipers. These religious people in His day were known as the Pharisees. They demanded Jesus to follow the man-made rules of religion. “Wash your hands before you eat”, don’t save a dying or hurt creature on the Sabbath, and pray really loud and sound intelligent to the town folk with in ear shot. For when you do that, everyone will know how religious you are.

The Pharisees were difficult people.  They spent loads of time making up rules. They were always harassing Jesus and rattling His chain about one thing or another.

They thought He was blasphemous. They thought He was demonic. They thought Jesus was reprehensible for eating with sinners and running with the tax collectors.

Truth is, Jesus called twelve men, sinners, to a job that would impact all future generations. He made a ‘pact’ with them. He would be their Rabbi, and they would be His followers, and through Him, they would change the world. He would stand by them even when they chose not to stand by Him.

Jesus was quite the radical for His day.  I think He remains radical to this very moment and I don’t think He plans on changing. He doesn’t go by rules and regulations made by the religious people. He goes by a relationship with sinners that He plans to transform. Sinners that He intends to use to impact the world. Sinners that He will stand by.  Sinners, that He just simply loves.

So hence this; the religious people and leaders may judge me for going into the liquor store. That is all they choose to see.

The less religious people and leaders may say, “now, wait, let’s just see if she comes out with a brown paper bag before we judge her actions”.

It is an unfortunate situation when many in the body of Christ would care more about what I bring out than what I take in…

Jesus said, ” the tax collector’s and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you”…He said that to the religious people.

To the woman caught in adultery ready to be stoned by the Pharisees, Jesus said this…

“He who is without sin, cast the first stone”. Then He looked at the woman and asked her, “Where are your accusers? Now go, and sin no more”.

I call that kindness.

I call that mercy.

I call that love.

I call that faithful and true.

I call that righteous.

And I call that justice served.

Dr. Billy Graham once stated, “I am only here to bear witness. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, and it is God the Father’s job to judge.

May that statement be my plight…

So, what did I do on a Saturday night?  I headed to the liquor store. I went in and mulled around the place. While doing that, I heard this conversation:

“I have to go hear a speech or something”. 

What?

“Yea, I have to go hear somebody talk, and then write a one page paper on what they talked about”.

Really! What kind of assignment is that? 

“My professor, Mr. ‘Smith’.  He says if we can’t find someone to go listen to then we have to go to church and then write about what the preacher talked about. Thing is, I don’t know who to listen to. I’ve checked all over town.”

Wow, well dude, why don’t you  just go to church and then write your paper on what the preacher says about Jesus. How easy would that be!

“Well, I don’t go to church. I tried that… and I’m just not a fan”.

And with that came my opportunity.

I think the reason people aren’t a fan of church doesn’t have a thing to do with Jesus. I think it has to do with us.

With a right portrayal of Jesus, one can’t help but like Him, and once you get to know Him, you can’t help but  love Him.

He loves and cares about people.  All people, not just the ones sitting in church.  He is faithful and true. He stands for righteousness and justice. Who doesn’t love an out of the box Man?

Jesus is completely radical.

Jesus goes to the dark places.

Jesus is the new wine.

Jesus carried a cross and He asks us to do the same.

Carry your cross, go to the dark places, and be the new wine.

The parable of the sower is paramount here.

So, I ask you…

Where do you sow your seed?

We are to plant seed on fertile soil; soil that is turned up and ready for planting.

The Body of Christ should carry two things; their cross and a bag of seed; the Word. For when we do that, our crosses drag the ground. The foot of that cross breaks open the ground and begins to turn up the dirt. When the opportunity arises, we dip our hand into our sack of seed and grab a small handful and scatter it.

But first, the ground must be fertilized with something called a relationship. One that is transparent, and it must be tempered by real life.  No more disguises of perfection.

Thats what I do at the liquor store. I fertilize by building relationships. I drag my cross inside, and when I can, I scatter seed.

And sometimes, sometimes, I buy a bottle of wine…

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