This isn’t my experience, but that of a friend, and with permission, I share it here with you.
My friend was born poor. His father had a job as a handyman, getting by but never really thriving. When his mother suddenly became pregnant (not an “oops,” but a bit of a surprise), they found themselves ostracized by their families and relatively homeless. Early on, his family traveled, forced to relocate when the work was scarce or other factors forced them to move. My friend’s childhood was anything but idyllic; still, he knew he was loved and that his parents sought out to raise him the best they could, as faithful people try to do.
By the time he was a teenager, he (and they) knew he was “different.” For some, the differences made him unique, but for others, they made him strange, a threat even. (For the sake of the story, I’ll gloss over the “differences,” as you’ll probably recognize the commonalities of such differences, today!) But he followed his father to work until he was considered an adult, never pursuing serious education or trade beyond assisting his father.
At that point, he felt the nudging of God to step out of his comfort zone and share the way that God was moving in his life and in other people’s lives. In a way that is much more charismatic than any preaching I’ve ever done, my friend moved from place to place on the speaking circuit, speaking the gospel wherever he went and helping people as he could along the way. He developed quite a following, but his teachings were not quite lined up with the political and social expectations. And ultimately, it undid him.
My friend can look back and see the way that all of this unwound, but it’s still pretty shocking for me that someone who was full of such grace could ever have offended anyone this badly. He never said more in essence than that God loved everyone, regardless of what they were like or where they come from or what they were struggling with. But one night, a gang of men dragged him away from a party with his friends, beat him, and later left him to die. All because he threatened their status quo, because he said that God’s kingdom was big enough for everyone, that it wasn’t divided by race, or class, or sexual orientation. And for that, they killed him.
You’ll have to excuse me for my obtuse way of telling this secondhand story, but it seems that we keep repeating the cycle. We keep killing the prophets. We keep being threatened by the “other,” we keep making it “us versus them,” when it’s just us. But if they did it to Jesus, what did you think they were going to do to anyone else?