Coming out of the cold and into the warmth of a fire, friendship, and family is the story of our hearts, it’s the Story God has been telling since the beginning. We experience the magic of this most poignantly when we dare to be vulnerable with each other and instead of rejection, we experience acceptance.
When this happens in a fellowship, it can be life-changing for everyone.
But there’s a shadow side of this kind of fellowship, and it arises when we begin believing that acceptance is the most worthy expression of love.
This shadow side is a vagabond fellowship.
If you’ve seen an alleyway lined with blankets and cardboard boxes or an underpass flickering with the light of empty oil drum fires, you’ve had a glimpse of a vagabond fellowship.
It’s a place where the beat down and broken find an accepting community, but one where they remain broken, addicted, homeless.
We can create something similar when we refuse to face sin for what it is or when we brush it aside with a trite “we all fall short of the glory of God.”
It’s comforting. But it’s not good.
I want everyone to feel accepted. When I first started sharing vulnerably about the sins that brought me the most shame, a cadre of friends gave me more acceptance than I deserved in ways contrary to what I expected. They listened long to me, invited me into their homes, even cried with me at the pain I was bringing on myself because of my sin.
So I’ve been wrestling with what the difference is between vagabond fellowship and the kind that brings us home. Here’s what I’ve come to: the difference is our view of the cross.
The vagabond view sees the cross as the place Jesus joined with our sadness and suffering—the ultimate expression of his compassion.
The cross is that, for sure. But it’s more.
The cross is where Jesus not only entered into sin and suffering, it’s also where he became their remedy.
Jesus had “nowhere to lay his head” not because he didn’t have a home, but because he left his home to seek vagabonds and bring us home. We find him around the oil drum fire, clothed in rags and smelling of alcohol, so you and I would find ourselves dressed, in our right minds, and holding a bus ticket home in our hands.
So let’s risk vulnerability. Let’s be more accepting than ever before. And let’s go with each other to the cross of compassion and healing for all our tenacious sins, deeply embedded false identities, and unhealed wounds.
Let’s head home.
I’d love to hear from you! Practically speaking, how can we “go with each other to the cross”? What have you done and how has it made a difference?