Last night’s celebration of Step By Step night was a joyful and glorious pleasure. We had a crowd of about 60 folks that was not only enthusiastic, but able to enjoy a whole lot of home cooking and filled with encouragement from many different kinds of people, more like a church should always be. From the original poem by Leo, to Brother Freddie’s booming prayer, to Bridget’s remarks, to the amazing skit performed by Will and his wife called “Tomorrow”, to the ebullient and glowing Willie Mae who has become quite the chip giver, we had a blast!
You couldn’t tell that in those rooms were a whole bunch of “notorious sinners”. I love the Life Recovery Bible translation of the day Jesus called Matthew, it goes like this in Matthew 9:
As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax collection booth…..this could be equated to our modern day of Jesus passing by a drug dealer, in practicality they were both thugs. “Come be my disciple”, Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Yes, a thug became a disciple, and a really good one at that. Notorious to Glorious!
That night, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. Can you imagine what the table setting looked like that night and what the conversation was? Maybe one of the notorious sinners posed this question to Jesus……So we have heard of your miracles, we have seen other men do magic, what makes you different?
Don’t know his exact response but he certainly wasn’t pointing fingers like the Pharisees. His words were more than likely glorifying his father, not condemning the guests. The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum” they asked the disciples. It is exactly that “church” attitude that helped start AA, when the notorious sinners couldn’t find refuge from their sins in a church setting.
But, last night Campus and ATB welcomed with open arms, people who were seeking to find their God in a place where they were accepted. All of us broke bread together, shared our talents and went home wanting to do it again. Sound familiar (Acts 2)? All we did was follow the example of our leader who said “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, sick people do”. So, he made a house call, so did we.
And then the Lord added a line that I will never forget, which propels my passion to lead ATB and be in the midst of as many notorious sinners as I can find. How Glorious! Then he added, “For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.”
Here is what I have learned to be true about our God, the more notorious you are when you come to him, the more notoriety he wants to give you. Sort of Notorious to glorious!
*Step By Step is a halfway house in Lawrenceville for addiction recovery. Click here to learn more.
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.