After some persuasion from my partner Ian, I decided to go back once more to pay a visit to my previous megachurch that I left about two years ago.
It helped that a dear friend had also previously extended an invitation to me.
I was a bit nervous, having several bad experiences with Christian leaders in the past, once there, and another more recently, so it was with some trepidation that I listened to the sermon being preached.
The person at the pulpit happened to be Pastor Paul Scanlon, a guest preacher from Bradford, UK.
And as I sat there in the midst of hundreds, I found acceptance in an unexpected way.
He was talking about how as a church, we need to reach out to the people society had deemed unacceptable, those people had discarded. The leftovers. The unwanted.
So much so that when people mentioned us, they would say in a demeaning fashion, “Do you know what people go to that church?”
Naturally, I associated these people not with prostitutes, ex-convicts nor alcoholics, which were examples given on stage, but with people like us, like myself.
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
He quoted the above verse, about the shepherd who’d go out to find the one lost sheep, saying that Jesus is more interested in the outsiders than in those who were already happily ensconced in church.
How true, isn’t it?