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Monday, February 9, 2009

Not Good Enough For Church?

Are any of us?? Hmmm....

There are a couple of angles to look at this question from. One is from the person seeking a church. I have heard many a person say they would go to church once they got their act together. I guess they thought the walls would cave in and crumble down if they went in the miserable sinner they are.

Some people are also so afraid that they'll be rejected by the church and people in it. This is what I find most sad, and even more sad is the fact that there may be good reason for them to feel this way!

Some churches just don't seem prepared, equipped or even willing to accept with open arms those who may be different than they. I find this most common in more traditional denominations. I couldn't figure out why this would be so. Alot of more contemporary churches and non-denominational's seem to not only welcome, but embrace those who are coming from the school of hard knocks. Some of these churches even actively seek out those lost and hurting.

So, what is the difference in these churches? I can't be sure, but I think I may have figured out at least a small part of it. Many in the more traditional churches are born and raised in the faith. It is just part of who they are, they know nothing different. Whereas it seems many in the more contemporary churches come to the faith later in life, often times after living a less than desirable lifestyle.

I don't think one group of these two types of believers is any better than the other, but I do think that those who have been saved from a life of gangs, addiction issues, promiscuity, etc, are that much more grateful for the grace bestowed upon them, as they've been saved from the pits of hell, perhaps literally. It's kind of like being born into money versus coming into it later in life. While there is nothing wrong with being born into money, I think those who come into it later appreciate it a bit more, as they know what it is like to be without, and really appreciate it when they get it. Those who come into money later in life, not always, but often will be more generous with it, as they know what is like to not have it and can be more sympathetic to those who don't have it and want to share what they've been blessed with. Those born into it aren't necessarily selfish, they just don't have any idea of what it is like not to have it and may not be able to relate as well to those who don't have it.

I don't know if that analogy makes much sense or not. It's just that I find often those who come into faith later after experiencing a difficult life, are usually the ones out there trying to share it with everyone else, as they are so excited, they don't want to keep the secret to themselves! Those born into it, have a sincere and true faith, but often it seems they lean towards keeping it to themselves. Sometimes at the cost of rejecting seekers.

A comment was made the other day in a discussion that this person didn't know how to handle someone wanting to be part of the church who is perhaps a prostitute, homosexual or addict. I was left wondering, how is this person to get to know God if they aren't welcome in His house? I pointed out that if these people knew me 20 something years ago, I am sure with that mind-set I wouldn't have been welcome in their churches doors. I could have been rightfully called one or more of the above things back then. Boy, am I glad the churches I was seeking at had a different attitude or I may have not continued seeking after such rejection!

There's an old saying that "a church is a hospital for sinners." We are all sinners, even the most upstanding church member sins, daily. If he or she says otherwise, than they are also guilty of the sin of lying! Some of our sins are visible on the outside, maybe the single young girl with a swollen pregnant belly, or the addict with track marks on her arm, other sins aren't' so visible, lust, greed, pride, but that makes them no less a sin in His eyes! A sin is a sin and just because yours isn't visible for us all to see, it makes you no better than the rest of us!

It makes me think of THIS video by Casting Crowns. It wont let me post it here, but please go check it out. It is a very good picture of just what I am talking about.

So friends, next time that scantly dressed girl comes through your churches doors or that fellow with tattoos all up and down his arms, instead of staring and pointing while whispering to your friends, smile, make room and invite him or her to sit with you and your family! Who knows, maybe that one simple act of kindness is enough to make that seeker come back!

Did Jesus dine with the priests of His day? No, he hung out with the tax collectors and prostitutes. He didn't come to save those who were already perfect(which NONE of us are this side of heaven!) He came for those of us who needed Him most, luckily He was just a little more welcoming and understanding than many of us who call ourselves His followers!

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