We heard him before we saw him. Heads turned as his motorcycle pulled to a stop near the group standing outside enjoying the sun before the church service. Eyes discreetly followed as he made his way toward the gathering. His pointy white beard, black bandana, and leathers were a glaring contrast to the folks in their Sunday best. Pulling off his jacket, he exposed a full length cross tattoo on one arm and a crown of thorns encircling the other.
He extended a meaty palm and started shaking hands. Spike was a traveling missionary. And today was our “divine appointment”. He’d been touring the country, stopping to listen to stories and sharing some of his own. He kept track of people and places in a small leather journal.
Around his neck he wore a spike. Fingering it, he said it was a daily reminder about the nails hammered into Jesus for him. The small group nodded quietly. Jesus had taken the nails for us too, but none of us had a 4” spike to remind us. Just then the pastor came bustling up and shook Spike’s hand, welcoming him inside. The rest of us just stared.
During the service, the pastor invited Spike to share a few thoughts. Some eyebrows rose. Parishioners followed his burly frame to the microphone.
“Forgiveness.” He paused and let the word sink in.
“When you folks get to Heaven you might be surprised to see people that you condemned to hell. Why? Forgiveness. Jesus took the spikes and the cross for everyone — even the thief on the cross next to him. It will never be about what we do for God — it’s about what He did for us.
I used to hate rules and broke them all the time, hurting others as much as me. When I was beaten up inside and out, I took Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. He showed me that life is about love not rules. What’s Easter? It’s when Jesus paid our way to God — no one else could or ever will.
Jesus invites everyone — including those you’ve already shut out of your life — people that look like me, or people that live differently than you. Just ask Jesus. No restrictions, limitations, or eliminations. If anyone needs to change, Jesus can do it his way. If he changed a rebel like me, he can change anyone.
I’m an imperfect messenger, but serve the perfect Jesus.” Holding his spike, he finished, “Three nails plus one cross equals forgiveness.”
It was a one-minute message none of us would forget.
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18
Karen Farris saw the need to help underserved kids while serving in a youth ministry that gave her the opportunity to visit rural schools on the Olympic Peninsula. She now volunteers her time grant writing to bring resources to kids in need. She also shares stories of faith in action for those needing a dose of hope on her weekly blog, Friday Tidings.www.fridaytidings.com