Summary: Jesus invites ALL comers, not just those we consider likely candidates
Invited To Jesus
CALVIN CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
Invited To Jesu s p.1
Sietze Buning, story teller of our faith community, tells the story of a man
whose life was beat up, who was tired, who carried a heavy burden on his
shoulders and in his heart.
His name was Benny Ploegster.
Benny was a drunk.
For three years the church elders had tried to change Benny’s ways. And
for three years they’d failed. Benny failed. Benny remained a drunk. The
stain on his life remained as deep as ever. The siren song of booze kept
seducing him. The chains seemed to hold fast.
And so - the elders decided it was time to excommunicate Benny. No other
option. Three years and nothing to show for it. They were done.
Benny, writes Buning, could have reacted in several different ways to his
He might have resigned his membership and just walked away from a
group that he could very easily have labelled “a bunch of hypocrites.”
He could have done that.
He could have gone to a more lenient church.
He could even have continued to attend this same church, and just
skipped the excommunication service -
lots of dark, shadowy corners in the balcony area where no one
would see him, and from where he could escape after service
without speaking to a soul.
He could have done any one of these things.
But he didn’t.
Benny went to church on the day he was excommunicated.
Benny sat in the centre, a few rows from the front.
he stood right up,
when the form for Excommunication was read.
Buning writes - “Why shouldn’t Benny stand up? That in twenty centuries there
was not a single precedent for bodily presence of an excommunicant at his
excommunication is insufficient reason not to.”
Invited To Jesu s p.2
So, Benny stood.
His father cried.
And Benny was excommunicated.
The elders didn’t know what to make of it,
what to do with Benny.
Others in the congregation - they didn’t know, either.
Benny didn’t fit the bill. There wasn’t a category around that could properly
cover him or his situation. They didn’t know what to do with all this.
And so Benny was dropped.
Yet, desperate for m ercy, desperate for Jesus, Benny kept coming to
church until he died of cirrhosis of the liver.
The Church had no room for Benny.
One wonders, though, what the Lord thought.
If He had room for a skid-row drop-out?
If there would be room in heaven for a tired sinner desperate for mercy?
If there could be eternal rest for someone hounded by life-long addiction?
And as we wonder about that, something inside us knows, doesn’t it?
That somehow, beside the criminal on the cross, and joining in the chorus,
“Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (Lk 23:42)
somewhere there is Benny.
with an eternally easy yoke and heavenly lightened burden.
A strange-looking child of God who saw the Son and refused to
Who through the blurred vision of addiction realized that God-life
would only be found by Jesus – and refused to quit.
Because Heaven’s categories are shaped quite differently than those we
fashion with human minds and hearts.
Heaven’s categories are cross shaped.
We people - ah, how many different boxes we construct;
how many categories we fashion
into which we try to cram all the stuff, events, and relationships of life.
They are boxes that, in many cases, are shaped by our gender or our social
background or our ethnic heritage or our educational experience or our age.
Invited To Jesu s p.3
They are boxes that we have trouble seeing out of. And when people come
along who don’t fit into those boxes, we’re really not sure what to do with them.
So sometimes we do nothing.
Sometimes we ignore.
Sometimes we condemn.
Sometimes we push them away.
Sometimes we try to force them into our box.
How many Benny’s don’t you know?
Their situation was too hurt-filled, too unpredictable, too slow to respond,
too stained for us to be able to deal with.
And somehow, somehow they ended spinning, or getting spun, to the
outside of the circle.
Now, Benny’s story was one of the sin, sickness and lifestyle pains that
go with chemical addiction.
But his story is only one of many, many stories of people that found
themselves spun to the edge, or pushed out and off because they didn’t fit into
the various boxes and categories that we nest together in this organization and
institution that we call “Church.”
Which is understandable.
Because “Church” is made up of people.
And as we people begin to relate and group and gather, we do so around