Welcoming All

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

                                    Matthew 25:34-40

 

There’s the story of a pastor who transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the mega church where he was later to be introduced as the head pastor. He is said to have waked around the church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people, and only three out of 7,000 people even said “hello” to him. When he asked people for change to buy food, no one in the church gave him any money. At the start of the service, he went to sit in the front, and was asked by the ushers to sit in the back. He was met with stares, dirty looks, and the scorn of people looking down on him.

 

Fast forward to the part of the service where the elders announced the introduction of the new pastor to the church, and were met with joyful clapping. All eyes were on the disguised pastor as he walked up to the front. He then recited the Scripture reference listed above (Matthew 25:34-40), and shared his interaction with them that morning. Many bowed their heads in shame. He then stated, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?” He then dismissed the service until the following week.

 

I’ve researched the story, and apparently it is an urban legend. People do feel that it’s based, however, on the true story of a pastor who did something very similar, but with a smaller church and a much different result. This pastor, disguised as a homeless man, had about 20 people out of the 200-person congregation speak to him and offer some type of assistance. His sermon was a call to emulate Christ, not to judge other people by appearances. He ended his sermon with “Our goal should be to improve and change the lives of people as we live like Jesus. You see, we look at the outside of others and make judgments. God looks inside at our heart and sees the truth.”

Friends, we are at a point in the life of our church where, if we are obedient and seek to do His will, we could begin to see new faces and new families each Sunday, as the Lord grows the church. Not everyone will look like us. Not everyone will have the same backgrounds as we do. It is important that we are open and inviting to everyone who comes in our doors and worships with us.

 

A number of us have been members of our church for a long time, and understand how things work, and how programs are run, and whom to call when such-and-such a thing happens. And that knowledge and experience is invaluable, and is an asset to our church. What we need to augment that experience, though, is an understanding of how “we do things” looks like to a visitor or brand new person.

 

A couple of weeks after I’d joined the Worship committee the first time, we were tasked with viewing everything from the point of view of a first-time visitor: how open and inviting the liturgy was, how organized the sanctuary looked from different pews, how the sound system was, how the programs were conducted, and the like. It was an eye-opening experience, from the understanding of the things that we did well, and the realization of the things that we could improve upon. I’d like to invite everyone to go through that exercise over the course of the next couple of weeks, asking the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the opportunities we have for improvement, both corporately and individually. As He reveals them, may we be open to change.

 

 

Prayer Requests

  • For the victims of the flooding and rains in Hawaii as Tropical Storm Lane dumped more than 40 inches of rain
  • For the Holy Spirit to flood us with His presence
  • For those who are struggling with what seems the trials of Job
  • For us to be open and obedient to His will for His church

 

I am excited about this next chapter in the lives of our church. I pray that He uses us to witness to those who need to know Him, and that people feel an instant family connection to each other, as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Quotes

 

“You are learning nothing from your life if you think you are right all the time.”

 

“It’s hard to get in shape spiritually if you only work out on Sunday.”