A few years ago, I was asked to sit on a steering committee to find a new youth pastor for a church, the following is some highlights from this experience. I had attended this church for a while of highly religious people, you know, “church” people. They went to church each week, tithed and gave money to the poor; they studied their scriptures and read them daily. These people dressed nice, smiled, and were good, Godly people. These people also believed in a strict interpretation of the Scriptures and to that end they were at times prejudice. They looked down on those who were different or those who did not believe what they believed. They often spoke harshly of people who were outside their religious group or used passages of scripture to point out the sins and flaws of others in an effort to help these outsiders repent. Overtime, this church developed an “us” versus “them” mentality but it did not really matter because there was more of “us” then “them” and we knew we had the true faith.
Then along came this young man, a youth pastor for a nearby town, he was very knowledgeable of the Scriptures but believed that the Scriptures was to be interpreted and used for grace, mercy and kindness. He invited everyone to come to his youth group and service and hear his message – those who had premarital sex, criminals, and drug users. He seemed to attract a rough crowd. He didn’t care how these people had sinned or what they had done; the youth pastor allowed them to come to our church and often told them they were forgiven. At first, the elders from our church were shocked but they merely dismissed this youth pastor as ignorant. In fact, the youth pastor came from a part of the country that was uneducated and poor and therefore the church elders chocked his actions and teachings up as misguided and that the youth pastor was simply uneducated.
But the youth pastor didn’t stop there, he kept preaching and even started preaching against the senior pastors and the church elders saying there were corrupt and misguided. The youth pastor also started to attract a following of some rough men – laborers, a former convict, and a CPA who had been caught in tax fraud. All these men were flawed; sinners and none of them were well versed or educated in the Scriptures. They were ordinary men but the youth pastor told them they should start teaching everyone about God. The situation got so bad that there were many altercations between the senior pastors and church elders, and this youth pastor and his band of criminals and sinners. Even worse, many of the people at our church were starting to follow the youth pastor instead of the senior pastors and elders. Finally, the senior pastor and the church elders decided they needed to take action, they could no longer allow this youth pastor to teach his interpretation of “their faith” or corrupt their church and their way of life. Something needed to be done.
What happened next was amazing and something that I will never forget, the senior pastors and church elders felt threatened by this youth pastor. He was contradicting everything that the pastors and elders had taught their congregation for years. He was overlooking sinners and those who had questionable morals and allowing them to be a part of “us”. The youth pastor was splitting our congregation in half and appointing criminals and untrained laypeople to speak on behalf of the church. The youth pastor was challenging our church, its authority and our rules. So they killed him. That youth pastors name was Jesus.
While this story in itself was amazing, what happened next was a true testament of faith in God. Those fishermen, a terrorist, a tax collector and the rest of the untrained, ordinary men – went on to change history and our world as we know it. God used these ordinary, untrained men to change the fate of the world and history forever.