Someone made a joke at my expense recently. I am sure they didn’t intend it to be mean, because they couldn’t see the whole picture; the why and when and how behind the situation they were joking about. As with any human being, their perspective is limited and didn’t allow for understanding the lives of people different than themselves. I let the joke go by without comment because it’s none of my business what other people think of me.
But I remembered the joke later because it turned out to be one instance of a series; observations about the humans around me, who are mirrors of my own inadequacies, complexes, insecurities and anxieties. The observations had me questioning the motives of my fellow humans, and – as often happens – led me to an introspective review of my own heart. Which is the best way these things turn out. The worst way is when I ignore the state of my heart and just blame it all on the innocent bystanders. As usual, the introspection revealed my own fears and doubts and sinful attitude.
Sinners are everywhere. Including church. Especially in church. Where else should they be? We wouldn’t expect the waiting room at the doctor’s office to be filled with healthy Olympians… (unless they were hypochondriacs). Church is exactly where we sinners belong.
Have you ever been in one of those situations where a person shows up who is so odd – so unlike everyone else – that things get awkward? Do you, like I, wonder at that uncomfortableness inside and ask… why do I feel this way? And why is that person here at the same time as me? Perhaps that feeling is fear; fear that we might be that person: the one that doesn’t fit in.
The term “ragamuffin” could be applied to many of the characters we read about in the New Testament who followed Jesus. Ragamuffins, because they realized their own spiritual poverty in His presence. That is the key that unlocks the door to the prisons we build for ourselves; the realization that we are utterly hopeless, combined with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. It reveals the undeniable truth of our need. Those prisons were built with self-righteousness, pride, self-centeredness, lust, fear, arrogance. It is only by the grace of God that we are allowed to see this in the first place. Which should underscore how impoverished we really are.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3
Those who have seen the darkness of their heart, agreed with God they are utterly unworthy, and in His grace found forgiveness and salvation… these are the poor in spirit. Every last one of them a ragamuffin.
Oddballs, misfits and redeemed sinners! Oh my!
Heaven is going to be full of ‘em.