“Young man, you’re not welcome here!” Those words echoed in Jeremy’s head as he ran down the street. “I hate those stupid Christians. Anti-Christ Rules!”

Jeremy’s life had become a living hell. It seemed as if God were to ruin everything that he loved. At the ripe old age of 14, he felt defeated and hopeless. Everybody made fun of his black clothes, dark eyeliner and lipstick, and gothic music. He was an only child living with his mom since his parents split up 6 years before. But she was too busy with her own messed-up life!

Everywhere Jeremy went, people stared and laughed at him. His dreary life had become a sad, hopeless existence. Nobody took the chance to even talk to him. Mr. Bailey, one of his teachers, pulled him aside and said, “You would probably have some friends if you didn’t dress so weird.” Mr. Bailey always had a way of pushing his buttons.

He wanted to run home and tell his mom, but he knew she wouldn’t be there anyway. As he began searching through his back pack, he pulled out a Bible that he always liked to read when his feelings got hurt. He turned to the book of John and began to read about Jesus and his disciples. As he cried softly he thought, “I bet Jesus would have been my friend.”

Jeremy woke up early that morning and walked into a church a couple blocks away from his home. He was excited about going to church for the first time. “Finally, someone will understand me!”. As he took his first step into the church, he smiled at the usher and said “Hi”. The usher looked at him coldly and then ignored him.

Jeremy walked with his head down as he slid into the center of the back row. As the Pastor walked around greeting old and new members of the congregation, he stopped when he reached the last row. As he glanced at Jeremy, he turned his head and walked back toward the pulpit. As the place filled with people, Jeremy sat all alone in the last pew. He turned and saw four people standing in the back looking at him coldly as the Pastor delivered his fiery sermon on proper Christian appearance.

Jeremy stood up and left the church. He swore he would never be back.

“Why can’t I just be liked for who I am?” Jeremy ran faster. As he remembered those self righteous bible bigots, he began sobbing uncontrollably. “I hate them! I hate them!”

He stopped and crawled underneath a bridge where he had spent a lot of time thinking. It was dark and gloomy, but strangely comfortable. It reflected what he felt inside. It was, in some strange way, a place to hide from those “loving christians”.

Jeremy was crying out in the same way we have cried out when nobody listened. Have you felt judged? Have you felt misunderstood? Have you felt alone? I think we all have. We need to stop acting like Christians and start acting like Christ!! Christ not only accepted these kinds of people, but he looked for them. He was excited that he had the directions to life as they went down the road to death. What was it that Jesus had? Love and acceptance. He was God and knew what it felt like to be rejected.

You know, I find myself in the middle of another counterculture. I realize that the same things I wrote about the “Metalheads” of yesterday are still true today. But one very sobering detail pierces my heart. Many of the same people that were crying for someone to understand them just 10 years ago, are turning their backs on the “Jeremy’s” of the world today.

Many of you who were preaching unconditional love without condemnation and judgement, are guilty of hypocrisy today! You forget what it is like to reach out to someone on the edge that feel alone and confused. Don’t forget that you use to be one of them!

Jeremy will continue to blame God instead of the people who are mistreating him.  He will hate, and be hated. He will die in that pit – without a life line.

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