Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Kind Of People

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes.  If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor"—well, doesn't this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?  (James 2:2-4)  NLT

When I was just out of college, I went to a small town church in rural Mississippi.  It was a growing church that loved Jesus and was incredibly focused on outreach, moreso than any other church I had been to.  One Sunday night, I was sitting with the choir when I noticed a black family had chosen to attend.  They were sitting about halfway back on the right side.  They had the entire row to themselves, ignored even through the “fellowship hymn”.  At the end of the service the church joined hands across the aisle to sing a last chorus, and that’s when it dawned on me why no one sat in their row. 

What kind of person would you rather not sit next to “on the pew”?  Who is it that, having run into them on the street, you would have difficulty inviting them to church?  For some of us it’s porn stars or strippers.  For some it’s homosexuals.  Maybe for you it’s rich people.  Or poor people.  Maybe it’s based on the way she dresses, a tattoo on his arm, or how long his hair is.  For some it’s the fact that they’re Missionary Baptists instead of Southern Baptist.  Isn’t it easy to want to help God determine which people belong in “His house” and which seem to fit in better “out in the world”?

But we know Jesus didn’t do that.  He was constantly being berated by people around Him for socializing with tax collectors and sinners (ie. the proverbial bottom of the barrel).  Remember the story of Zacchaeus? 

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. "Zacchaeus!" he said. "Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today."  Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.
But the people were displeased. "He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner," they grumbled.
Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, "I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!"
Jesus responded, "Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost."  (Luke 19:5-10)

If we truly follow Jesus, we’ll realize that God has called us to reach those who desperately need His love—who desperately need salvation.  As it turns out, this would be everyone.  The business man, the stay at home mom, the ex-marine, the homosexual, the porn star.  Everyone.  God loves all of us, calls all of us, desires to have a relationship with… all of us. 

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