Devotional thought of the day:
It was one of those conversations I will never forget. A dad – obviously by the tatoos and mannerisms and piercings he one who had been challenged with a past. He was sitting on the planter, outside of my church, the night of a preschool graduation. As I walked by in my clerical collar, I greeted him, and asked him if he was shocked about how fast time flies and our kids grow up. His response shocked me,
“Pastor, I know with my tats and my piercings, I am not allowed in the church, but can I watch the graduation from the lobby”
I am still shocked someone would think that about any church, and even more schocked that they would think that about my church. Of course you are welcome in the house of God. Of course you can come – that’s why your child came in the first place. You see, my people aren’t anything like that, they wouldn’t care about the tats, or the piercings, they would be glad the man was there. More importantly God wants him to be welcome, to know the Lord’s presence is with him. I invited him in and told him to sit up front – where he would get a good view of it all. (People tend to stand up a lot to take pictures at such graduations, not thinking that they are blocking someone else’s view. ) But his response… really, is amazing, and it makes me wonder about our churches….the Church. How could they not know?
Luke’s story of Jesus love tells of an incident. One time, in dealing with some people that were a bit too self-righteous, he records “Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? 32 I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:31-32 (MSG)
Church isn’t a place for perfect people – they don’t need to be there – they are perfect. It’s a place for broken people, people broken by the sins of this world, and yes, by their own sins as well. Its a place to heal, to have relationships fixed, to be assured of God’s love and His desire to work in our lives, as He speaks life into our tired, weary, and spiritually dead souls. As He makes His desire, His plan perfectly clear.
We belong in His presence, not because we are perfect, but because He desires us to be there, and makes it possible.
I am still not sure if the man believed me or not. I got the feeling that he had been turned away from other churches, in other times. I look at the planter daily, and often remembered our conversation. It is one of the reasons that Concordia’s mission statement, our motto, is simple…
“Where people find healing in Christ, while helping others heal…”
Lord Jesus, in our brokenness, come into our lives, bring healing, peace, rest, comfort, and open our eyes to those around us who need what You freely have given, for that is the Father’s desire, and why you came. Lord have mercy, and teach us to share that with all those around us. Lord as well, help us to never hide that brokenness, that weakness – from you or from those who need to see You working, bringing healing to us. Seeing that – may they realize it is theirs as well. †