Ry Torhan, the youth pastor at The Gate, and his wife, Heather, went to see the Harlem Globetrotters. Ry gets along well with everyone. When he sat down next to a man who was there with his family, they quickly hit it off. At halftime an official for the team invited the man and his family to follow him. A few minutes later they returned, weighed down in complementary Globetrotter gear. Before the team rep left he invited the family to the VIP room after the game to meet the players and to get their autographs.
Not only did this man receive autographs, he gave out plenty of his own. Though everyone else seemed to know who this guy was, Ry and Heather didn’t have a clue. The Torhans continued to interact with the stranger and enjoyed the game with him as if they had been friends for years. During a surge in the autograph signing, Ry felt comfortable enough to joke with his neighbor, “My fans are courteous enough to not bother me during the game.”
Toward the end of the game, the suspense finally got the best of the Torhans. Ry told the man, “We know you’re somebody, but we’re not sure who.”
The wise stranger replied “Everybody is somebody.”
He eventually revealed his identity as Mariano Rivera, the ace reliever for the New York Yankees who is considered to be one of the best closers in baseball history. Mr. Rivera was cool with Ry’s inability to recognize his stardom, and even let Ry have his picture taken with him to show there were no hard feelings. Ry proudly displayed it as his profile picture on his facebook page.
It’s a good thing Ry had left his Boston Red Sox baseball cap in his bag.
Mariano Rivera has at least one thing in common with God – and I’m not talking about the productivity in the area of “saves” (sorry, bad joke). They both believe that everybody is a somebody. There are no throw aways. When God makes people he leaves a spotless cutting room floor. We are all made in the image of God. God’s kingdom is an interesting blend of exclusivity and inclusivity: only people who follow the Attractive Shepherd’s voice can be counted in, but everybody has sheep potential.
Nobody hears without ears
It’s obvious that the people Jesus considers to be his sheep have not done so by their own merit. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But, some of us can hear his voice and some of us can’t.
Jesus had a curious saying about people who could hear his voice: “Whoever has ears, let them hear (Matthew 11:15, NIV).” He was encouraging people with ears to use them, but he wasn’t talking about the floppy things attached to the sides of our heads. Jesus was referring to our ability to hear spiritual things, which requires spiritual ears. But, who has these ears and how did they get them? The rest of Chapter 5: A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing will tell you! This is a sample of my book The Attractive Shepherd. Click on “About The Book” and “Read Chapter 1” above for more info.