"You don't have to try out for Jesus." Patricia Heaton, in an episode of The Middle, as she encouraged her awkward teenage daughter toward youth group. Good truth there...
It's a funny show. It really is. Positive view of marriage (mostly). Positive view of parenting (again, mostly). Well cast, well written, and laugh-inducing, at least in this household.
Right there in the episode, out comes this beauty. It made me think of how many people tried out for Jesus like the Rich Young Ruler in Luke 18.
Rich: "Look at everything I've done for God, Jesus! How about them apples?"
Jesus: "You're clueless but nice. Here's a thought: sell everything you have and give it to the poor because you love your stuff too much to really get what my Kingdom is about. My dad's not all that impressed with your effort, but He likes you."
Rich: "Huh? But I just bought this and don't even have it paid off before the 12-month no-interest deadline yet!"
He walked away. He was sad. Jesus was sad.
Compare that to the sinners and tax-collectors, the rejects and losers, the has-beens and never-weres, the dregs and the scumbags that Jesus hung around. No one tried out. Had they tried, they would've failed too. But they didn't. Jesus moved toward them and they reveled in it. They didn't try to impress Him, they just tried to do what He said was best. Zaccheus was one of those (Luke 19). His encounter with Jesus led him to give away 1/2 of what he owned and pay back those he had defrauded with interest. Stuff can clog the heart like spiritual cholesterol. Zaccheus wanted none of that.
No try-outs. Come as you are. Jesus was in the business of changing lives. Still is.