Outlaws To The EndPosted: May 8, 2012
My mother tells me wild stories of how my grandfather and his brothers lived a wild life. Back in the old days, they would travel all over the southeast to play in back room poker games and participate in other illegal activities. I imagine they lived a life that mirrored those of old west bank and train robbers. The likes of Butch Cassidy, Sundance and Billy the Kid. They were outlaws. Outlaws to the end.
My grandfather had six brothers in all. They were a motley crew of murderers, thieves and drunks. One of them was murdered during an argument. One of them murdered a man but escaped the authorities and two of them were convicted felons, nabbed for forgery and grand theft. That criminal mentality runs deep in my family. We were born to be outlaws.
I saw a piece of my grandfathers outlaw life with my own eyes. He was an auto body repair man by day but he ran an illegal poker game in the back room of his garage when the business day was over.
The back room contained shelves of tools and brushes and wreaked of paint and plaster. The windowless room had one single light that hung from the ceiling, just over a big wooden table surrounded by eight wooden chairs.
I learned that the game was frequented by prominent business men, city officials – even the chief of police. My grandfather rarely played in the high stakes game but he always took a percentage. A smart outlaw gets his share up front.
Despite all the infamous stories and adventurous tales that I hear about him, I don’t remember my grandfather as a criminal. He was always kind and gentle to my siblings and I.
He drove me around in his pick-up truck, bought me ice cream and taught me how a full house always beats a straight. In an act of heroism, he appeared out of nowhere and saved my mother and I from an attacking dog by hitting it over the head with a shovel.
Those weren’t the acts of an outlaw. They were the acts of a loving and devoted man.
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When I think of my infamous heritage and the gentleness of the grandfather I knew, I think of how Christ was an outlaw as well. He was seen by his enemies as a man who wanted trouble. He challenged the status quo. He disrupted the peaceful existence that the authorities had established.
He wasn’t a murderer, cheater, smuggler or thief. His only crime was bringing the truth and showing the love. And because of that, he was branded an outlaw by the powers that be. And all of those that professed His message were branded outlaws as well. They were hunted, imprisoned and executed, all in the name of Jesus.
As Christians, we are still living the outlaw life. We reject what the world defines as a truly happy, successful and meaningful life. The world sees us as trouble makers and misfits. We live differently and love differently so they label us as outlaws.
We attempt to live our lives in the same way that Jesus lived His. He was an outlaw. We are outlaws.
Outlaws to the end.