Friday, February 23, 2007

Pull Up a Chair!

Would you like to sit in this chair?

Is this how we treat some people who attend our churches?

James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, gave some pretty straight instruction about welcoming people into our fellowship:

"My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, 'You sit here in a good place,' while you say to the poor man, 'You stand over there,' or, 'Sit down at my feet,' have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man."
(Jas 2.1-6a ESV)

John Wesley, in his Explanatory Notes, had a beautiful turn of phrase. Commenting on verse four, he said, "You reason ill, and so judge wrong: for fine apparel is no proof of worth in him that wears it."

In other words, worldly distinctions that separate people in public life have no business in the church. What a person is esteemed to be on the outside is to be checked at the door.

It doesn't matter what kind of car a person drives.
It doesn't matter what label is on his clothes.
It doesn't matter how much money he has in the bank.
It doesn't matter who he knows.
It doesn't matter how many "connections" he has.

All are to draw near to God in worship as one people.

I won't kid you; it's easy to cater to people that you think will get you somewhere, people that will help you accomplish your goals or make you feel good about yourself. The Church of God, however, is not about status or power. It's about people who have acknowledged their spiritual poverty and their need.

The cross of Jesus levels the playing field. It shouts to everyone, "You're all going to hell! But let me show you how to find eternal life in the One who died on me!"

Don't give an icy reception to "unattractive" seekers of God because those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.

All of them.