Thirteen years ago, while serving at a local church in Indiana, I walked into a tattoo parlor with a friend.
I quickly began my discussion with the long-haired, tattooed man standing behind the counter. He opened up the conversation with racial ignorance that perked my interest.
Over the next hour, as he “delicately” carved ink into my buddy’s skin, I chatted with him about how he landed on such a convoluted belief. After some weighty dialogue, I gave him some information to process and told him I would be back in one week.
I pulled back into my confused friend’s parking lot only to see he and his girl friend meet me at my car. What happened next will forever be etched into my soul…
He and his girlfriend got down on their knees… They said. “We are wrong, wrong about everything. Jesus was right about everything…”
We prayed together.
The next week, we started our first Bible study in his tattoo shop. He closed down early and we chatted about Jesus with a few of his friends.
It was hilariously powerful. A pastor and some tattoo artists loving life together.
What was even more hilarious, was the one guy, who kept tattooing while we were chatting. The longer we went, the longer he went. The more we laughed and cried, the more tightly he tried to jam his door shut. It was a tangible picture of his heart (Ezekiel 36:36)
He wanted nothing to do with us, until that one day, when he did.
After spending several months chatting with him, he asked if he could tattoo a picture of Jesus on my arm. I prayed and said yes. A few months later he wanted to see the passion of Christ with me. During some of the most violent parts of the movie he got up and went into the hall, I followed. “What’s up man”, I said. He said, “That guy showed up in my dreams last night and told me I needed to repent and follow Him.”
Right there in the movie theatre, he responded to God’s abundant grace.
For the next five years you could find me regularly in a tattoo shop with an atheist, agnostic, Lutheran, Catholic and a new friend.
It was exhilarating to recline with such men.
Today we continue much in the same. My wife and I spend time in the cracks and crevices of culture for the sake of those around us. You will often find us having a coffee in an immigrants living room, a cigar in a local shop, a chat at a local pub, or a conversation at a local recording studio.
Because many years ago Jesus reclined with a man named Eric Wood. He was a self-righteous bigot, who needed to repent and believe in the good news of the kingdom.
Where were you? Who were you? What were you doing?
When Christ reclined with you?
“… Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel… And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him… And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners… “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 1:14-15, 17; 2:15-17; 10:45
It is my prayer that we would do more reclining. Less programming. While being faithful to display the manifold wisdom of God to the universe (Ephesians 3:10).
This seemed to be what Jesus exemplified. This seems to be what Paul imitated. This seems to be what we’ve been invited to (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Repent. Believe. Follow. Recline. Remain.
Grace and peace my friends,