I was with several other guys during my recent trip to Texas. We were all there for my Outdoor Truths Circle Event and to try our hand at downing a Rio gobbler. I look forward to this event each year. During that weekend most hunters arrive on Friday and begin their hunt that evening. My friend John is a great host, and his ranch has provided some memorable trips for both new and seasoned hunters. This year was no exception. While three toms were taken, the stories were all different. Don was first to take his bird that Friday evening. He got it done early while others came back empty-handed. Todd, however, didn’t have to wait to long. He bagged his on the next evening when a big tom came in without any problems. Mark’s success came later – on the last morning- and not without a bunch of highs and lows. And that was after the previous few days of he and Darrell (friend and fellow hunter) chasing and calling one bird after another. At the end, if we look at each trophy picture, there is something that is common. They all made it and they all celebrated for the other.
God was, and is, all about celebrating – especially when it comes to one’s new-found faith. Jesus frowned and scolding those who refused to do it. He tied three parables together just to highlight this. The parable of the woman who found a lost coin, a shepherd who found a lost lamb, and a father who welcomed home a lost son, was all about religious people not celebrating those from all walks of life, who came to Jesus. He had to reiterate celebration because he wanted to remind them and us, that grace is not fair. It is offered to all. Some accept it early in life and some on their death bed. But both get the same love and welcome on entrance to heaven. Grace must be unfair if it is to be all inclusive. And it is both. We can be reminded of that each time we think of the thief on the cross beside Jesus. On that evening, Jesus heard his confession, read his heart, declared him clean, and promised him no less of a place than the most dedicated God-fearing believer. Because grace isn’t fair. And as far as we know that thief was the first one to be welcomed into heaven after the crucifixion of Jesus. As one preacher said, when the angel welcomed him to heaven, he might have asked “How did you get here?” To which the thief said “I’m not sure. All I know is the man on middle cross said I could come.” And no matter what our past, positions, possessions, or popularity, none of us will be able to add any other word to that one statement. So, the best thing to do, is just celebrate everyone.