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I recently read an article on social media that addresses the need for the broken to go to church. It’s a very well-written and tender article, but sadly most of the addicted, disabled, poor, weak, needy, and shame-filled people it addresses aren’t overly welcome in the church.

 

First, let me describe being welcome. Being welcome in the church is not simply being allowed to enter the building and awkwardly walk the halls alone. Being welcome is not sitting alone in a Sunday school class filled with people because you don’t look, sound, or think like them.

 

Being welcome is genuinely being pursued with purpose and intention when you enter the doors of that church. It is the complete overlooking of anything that distracts from the precious soul that stands there.

 

There is a common and unfortunate misconception that churches are overall welcoming places. This belief is typically held within the church. That being said, I know that there are a lot of welcoming churches, but you know what else??

 

Everybody likes to think that they are welcoming, and we are often too proud to admit, or even evaluate if our church is not welcoming. We often dismiss or downright refuse to assess how much potential damage to the kingdom has taken place because of it.

 

And yes, there can be certain parts of a church that are functioning great in the pursuit of people, while other parts stink.

 

Being welcoming is an impartial job. We can’t pick and choose who gets to be pursued as they enter through the doors of our church. We don’t get to say, oh, they’re not my type, or they make me uncomfortable, they’re dirty, they’re in sin, or they smell. If we are Christians, then we love people. All people. All. Of. Them.

 

As Christians, our entire belief system is surrounding the idea that God sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. For ALL humanity, Jesus didn’t die for a certain group of people, but for ALL people. So if we are believers, we are without excuse to not continue to grow in our ability to love others well.

 

If you will…

 

Consider that behavior, personality type, disability, or sin that you cannot stand, that “thing” that if you were honest, you hate.

 

That is most likely the very person/people that instead of pursuing and loving, with not your love, but the perfect love of Christ you are rejecting.

 

If you desire to fully follow Jesus one thing that we have to overcome is the idea that we can decide who deserves our attention, love, and pursuit. When we don’t humble ourselves and love on the level that Christ loved us we damage the work of the kingdom. Not to mention, we become blind.

 

When we aren’t loving others as Christ loved us and we aren’t seeking to repent from our lack of love, we begin to be blinded to our sin. This is serious and can have major, and far reaching consequences. When we are unable to see we can’t humble ourselves, which prohibits us from dealing with the sin in our life. This causes a rift in, not only our lives and those around us, but in our personal relationship with God.

 

As believers we will either help others find Jesus through salvation or find Him through judgement and eternal separation.

 

Help is the key word. Although we are not responsible for another persons choices, we are, most definitely, responsible for our witness, which in turn, affects and influences the choices of others.

 

Our interactions with others will always mingle with their past experiences, good or bad. This works together to set a trajectory for a person, either helping to save a life or destroy it.

 

We are called very clearly in scripture to love, bear with, bear up under, not cause a weaker brother to stumble, to not lord ourselves over others, and on and on.

 

Loving others is a serious matter to God.

 

The ones offended by this will be the very ones who need to make changes. The ones who understand it, are most likely those who are desperately seeking love, on the brink of walking away from the faith, or are currently in a painful situation not sure of which way to turn.

 

So here is my take on the article I read regarding the need of the sinner and sick person to come to church.

 

Come to church, even if you’ve been rejected in the past.

 

Come to church again, after church abuse.

 

Come to church, after you were lied about and made fun of.

 

Come to church, even when you aren’t included.

 

Come to church, even when no one talks to you.

 

Come to church, with no friends.

 

Come to church, in your anger.

 

Come to church, in your shame.

 

Come to church, with your mental illness.

 

Come to church, when what makes you different has made people run.

 

Come to church, if that’s where you were previously hurt.

 

Come to church, with low expectations.

 

Come to church, being skeptical, cynical, and wounded.

 

Come to church, when that’s the last place you want to be.

 

Come to church, looking different, being poor, and not having a place to lay your head when you leave.

 

Come to church, because even in all that mess and tangled pain, Jesus is there.

 

Come to church, because He is there for you.

 

Yes, people are the church, but Jesus is Savior. He will show you something so marvelous if you go to church. It’s nice to have friends and be included, but Jesus is what we need. He is the only thing that can fill our holes, mends our hearts, and raise us up.

 

As someone who has lived through many years of church hurt and past emotional abuse stemming from a religious nature, I can say with absolute confidence, stay in church. Because Jesus is there. Jesus is the one you need. He is the one who will lift your head. His name is called, Man of sorrows. He knows the pain of being unwanted, unwelcome, and hurt by those He created. Yet, even He, Jesus, with all authority and divine power stayed the course, which led Him to His death on Calvary.

 

But even He, three days later rose up from the grave. That is what He wants to do for you. Raise you up. From your grave, the place of death that has held you so long. And He will, if you stay the course and continue on, even if you do it alone for a while.

 

Because a while will be all it is. There will come a day when He raises you up. That is what He does. He is always faithful, but we often limit His working because we hate pain so much. Look back to the cross, for there is and never will be, a more terrible and severe pain one could experience than walking alone to die for the sins of all humanity. But look also to the empty tomb! The place of raising!

 

That, my friend, is what He WILL do. It may take a long time, many tears, and further heartbreak. But as it says, in 1 Peter 5:10,

 

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.”

 

Only through the journey of suffering will we be able to fully be established, grounded securely, strengthened, and settled. We must deal with the pain of the past to receive the glory of the future.

 

There is not one person whom Jesus will turn away from redeeming. Not one. If you believe in Him and His work on the cross, and you obey Him by staying in the fire until He brings you out, you will be redeemed.

 

That doesn’t mean you’ll be perfect or have an easy life, but it does mean He will take you from that grave and raise you up.

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