One of my favorite things about our church is that they welcome people, open arms, "Come as you are," and they mean it. There is no unspoken rule about how one should dress, behave, or feel, walking into our church. There is no membership rule about how long you should be in attendance to receive communion, or dedicate your baby, or get baptized.
When we first moved back to Buffalo, we had two very young children who had not yet been formally dedicated to the Lord. Due to multiple moves and the difficulties involving finding a new church with young babies, we just hadn't gotten to it. I will never forget that first conversation I had with our pastor, when I asked him, within a couple short weeks of attending, if we could have them dedicated. He smiled and said, "Of course!" I don't remember his exact words, but I remember, in that moment, the way he made me feel like we were already a part of the family; that there were no protocols or rules to our desires to follow Jesus and proclaim His love over our children. And I have repeatedly watched this same mentality in welcoming others there over the last 9 years. The hungry, the sick, the homeless, those with special needs, the crying babies, the single moms, the angry and hurting; Come as you ARE.
This shouldn't be completely shocking or even rare. This should be the norm. Yet I have witnessed many places where the rules are more important than the people; where protocols and expectations are placed above relationships.
That is not the God I love. It is made clear, throughout scripture, that Jesus meets the sinners right where they are. No protocols, no rules. The very pharisees would question why He would hang out with such people, they deemed unworthy, and His answer is so simple, yet so profound.
Out of shape people go to the gym to become healthier.
Sick people go to the doctor to become well.
Students go to school to become knowledgeable.
We recognize the help we need, and seek it. I can remember people telling me that they wanted to give their lives to Christ, but wanted to straighten up first. They felt that they needed to clean up their own act before coming to Him. Likewise, the church will sometimes behave in this way toward the sins of others, as though you should already be perfect upon attending. Lifestyles, fashions, behaviors, habits which don't align with the church's views or rules are often frowned upon, making the attendees feel unwelcome.
Listen, some of us might be better at hiding it than others. Maybe we don't all wear our sins on our sleeves, but not one of us is better than another! When Jesus would minister to prostitutes, touch and heal the lepers, even have chosen disciples among Him, sin against Him, who are we to pick and choose who can come to Him?
The church body is full of imperfect people. We are all sinners in search of salvation. We are all broken in need of restoration. We are all sick, hoping to be made well. We are all students seeking knowledge. We don't go to church because we've got it all figured out. We don't go to church because we're perfect. We don't go to church because we're hypocrites. We go to church to meet with Jesus, and acknowledge that we are imperfect people in need of a Savior.
Allow Jesus to meet you, right where you are, and make sure you're not standing in the way of others, in need of the same thing.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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