Romans 12:3-8 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you…
In the 1980s I was an associate pastor at a large ministry. Weddings and funerals were assigned on rotation to the pastors on staff. It was on a Saturday in the spring that I was assigned to do a wedding. Most weddings took place at the church, but this particular assignment was in a park. It was nice to do these weddings, as an associate one could count on doing 20 or so a year which helped a young minister financially, as the church gave the $50 fee charged for the ceremony directly to the minister performing it.
I arrived at the park and drove around looking for a wedding party, and could not see one. I was very aware and apprehensive as I drove around because I had spotted a large gathering of a Bandidos Motorcycle Gang. I was afraid the bikers had scared off the wedding party, so I parked my car, got out Bible in hand and walked around looking for them.
I hearing someone yelling, “Hey are you the preach”? I turn around and there is this guy, at least twice my size, right out of a biker gang movie, with brothers in tow. He was dressed in all the usual leather gear one would expect, as he proceeded to inform me that he was the groom, and he would be taking care of everything. I indicated I was indeed the minister. He proceeded to put his arm around me and walk/drag with me to where the ceremony was taking place.
As I arrived there were 70 or so members and they were pretty worked up as there was a lot of beer and marijuana being consumed. Many of the female members we dressed very revealing, which made me somewhat uncomfortable. I started to indicate to them that I would in no uncertain terms perform this ceremony under these conditions. But after surveying the situation, I saw it as an opportunity to show the love of Christ.
So I proceeded with the ceremony and vows as onlookers, smoked substances, drank heavily and hooted and hollered at everything that was said. As I finished the ceremony and pronounced them man and wife, the whole wedding party surrounded the bride and groom and commenced to shower them with beer spray as they shook their beer bottles up and directed them at the couple. As I was standing with the wedding couple, I was drenched in beer from head to toe, soaking my hair, and covering my suit.
The wedding couple then ran through the crowd while being pelted with rice and sprayed with beer. The then jumped on a motorcycle, and rode off. Standing there drenched in beer I wiped my face off with the inside of my coat. I was not pleased with the beer shower to say the least. It was also as I was standing there, I realized that the man who had told me that he was taking care of everything, including my fee had just ridden off on his bike. Noticeably upset, with beer dripping from my ears, I muttered under my breath something to show my displeasure of being jilted while having to put up with the seedy conditions of the whole situation. I was loud enough for the groomsmen to hear, but not intentionally directed at them as to start a confrontation. I turned around an angrily walked toward my car.
I was about 10 feet from my car, when I heard someone yell,”Hey Preach”, I turned around. There stood the first man and buddy of the groom. He said” It looks like my brother took off without paying you”. I said, “Yea, looks that way doesn’t it, I figured as much”. He says” Nah Preach, it aint like that, I was supposed to give this to you”. He pulls an envelope, folded in half from his pocket, and hands it to me. I put it in my pocket, thanked him got in my car and drove away.
Later at home I was explaining the situation to my wife, still complaining as I pulled out the envelope from my pocket to give her for bank deposit. I opened it up and inside there were three $100 dollar bills. It happened instantly, BOOM. I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit. I had missed a tremendous opportunity to share Christ because I had placed some legalistic thinking on this wedding ceremony and instead of showing the love of Christ in all situations; I showed the anger of my flesh, because I thought I had been shorted $50 bucks, when in truth the Lord had blessed me with $300. And because of my pride of carnal man, thinking more of myself than I ought to have, I had missed a great opportunity share the love of my Savior with a bunch of folks who needed him. I should have hung around, dripping in beer with despite scantily clothed women, all the drugs and alcohol in use and spread the message of the Gospel, which is my calling. I wept, asked forgiveness and promised the Lord I would never again let my pride stand in the way of the Gospel.
But I had already gotten angry over 50 bucks, walked away and missed a golden opportunity. Well that was over 25 ago, and I have never missed an opportunity to do so again. I have been in much worse situations and treated much worse, but the Grace of My Lord and the message of the Gospel has always, from that time on, dominated all situations, and the Lord taught me not to ever think higher of myself than I should.