Open the doors and let them in.
This phrase I keep hearing from both the Republican campaigns and the Democrats. It is a call to allow the others, those who may not be exactly like the party bosses, those who may have different ideas, those who have felt left out and un-heard.
Lately I have been feeling the same when it comes to the Church and especially the local church. In Galatians five we are given a list of fruit or evidence of the life that has been reconciled to God through Jesus. What I find odd is just how many people who participate in the local church who do not carry these traits and at the same time how many people I have met who feel snubbed or left out of the church who do carry these traits.
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
It seems to me we the local church have majored on the minors and minored on the majors. We have emphasized proper theology over love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We have tried to create a homogenous kingdom rather than a diverse kingdom unified around Jesus.
There are many people I have come into contact with lately that may not fit my theology, may not see the world the same way as I do, and may not behave the way I am used to church people behaving. Yet, they all express a love and joy that is infectious, a kindness and goodness that is beyond reproach, and a faithfulness and gentleness that I envy. No they do not look or act like the church people I am used to but they are every bit apart of the Kingdom of God as I am.
You see the problem with a homogenous church is that we begin see the Gospel of Jesus through one lens and anyone who does not fit within that set standard is considered out or at least in jeopardy of being out. A homogenous church is unable to see the beauty of difference and diversity, and it is unable to live out the Grace we are called to.
Sure diversity is messy and yes it will mess with your theology and doctrines. Diversity will make you ask questions your scared of and it may cost you a few sacred cows but, it will also open our eyes to a greater idea of God, a wider understanding of Grace and forgiveness and it will lead to a greater love and appreciate for one another.
So, as the political parties scream out for the doors to open wider, I am crying out for the local church to open their doors wider, stop pre-judging based on language, looks, and even behavior you may not understand. Allow the Gospel to be given to all and remember you are not the Holy Spirit; it is not your job to make everyone look like you. It is the Holy Spirit who transforms us to look like Jesus and if we are honest we all could use more of that. So, open your doors to those you are scared of and allow yourself to see the work of Jesus in them. It will be like coming out of a black and white movie and into a full colored HD version of the Kingdom of God.