"Jesus loves terrorists. He loves Muslims. He loves rebels, critics, Democrats, liberals, gays, socialists, Communist comrades, Republicans, sassy teenagers, Goths, pot smokers, and ex-cons. Even worse, He wants them in His church. He even wants them on the front row of your church. In John 4, Jesus reached out to a crass, sleeping-around woman, and then went with her to the village to reach her friends as well. Jesus led a lot of “unlikelies.”
Jesus’ Lot of Unlikelies: • Zacchaeus – Jesus invited Himself to the home of a treacherous tax collector, not worrying about public opinion. • Woman Caught in Adultery – Jesus forgave an adulteress without first insisting that she confess her sins and make things right. • Peter, James and John – Jesus hung out with rough fishermen, synagogue rejects, violent terrorists, and soldiers of the occupational forces. • Simon the Zealot – Jesus called an urban terrorist to be on His team. The Zealots were an illegal political faction, committed to the violent overthrow of the Romans.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth, a Galilean fishing village. He recruited a crew of fishermen - unlikely leaders among the young men of Galilee - as His first disciples, the future leaders of His movement. He didn’t start with graduates of the best Torah schools or followers of the most respected rabbis as His first disciples. He modeled the principle that it is better to raise up insiders than to import outsiders.
A pastor friend recently told me a story of welcoming a known prostitute to his church congregation. At a church function for young people, she stripped down to a bikini and jumped in the swimming pool with the rest of the youth swimming at the party. Watching some older parishioners in his church looking at her with wide eyes and hard stares, he decided to prevent the certain judgment they were going to visit on the woman. He took off his shoes and jumped in the pool with her...clothes and all!
There are unlikelies all around us who have dismissed the church but are fascinated with Jesus. The most secure and courageous leaders are willing to risk rejection from the religious to reach the unlikelies.
Consider your circle of relationships. Is there anyone you might have overlooked for leadership training and development? Make a list of the least-likely candidates for leadership mentoring. Ask the Lord if you have overlooked anyone on that list.