Have you ever taken the time to read JUST the red letters of the Bible? You know...the parts where Jesus talked. I am not referring to the Apostle Paul’s writings or anyone elses. SIMPLY THE RED LETTERS. If you have not, please let me suggest you do so. If you have read them you will notice something very odd. Nowhere does he call out specific groups of people for how they dress, act or the lifestyle they live. This is very interesting isn’t it? Why do you think this is? I have two thoughts on the subject.
My first thought is that Jesus was laying down a foundation for his disciples on what a church ought to look like. When he was confronted by the prostitute he had nothing but love for her. The tax-collectors? In all of these random meetings he simply wanted to show them love. He did offer some wisdom in regards to how they ought to carry on but the fact remains the same...he loved them. It is no wonder the church grew by leaps and bounds in those days. Who doesn’t want to be a part of something where love and relationships are key? It is no mystery however that the people he had the least amount of time for were the pharisees. Even then he did die for them.
The second thought is that we ought to simply love. Billy Graham was asked about the gay issue, this was his response: “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” I honestly believe that with all of my heart because when you read through scripture, Billy Graham’s statement is true. When we can stick to this mindset we really do turn church gatherings into a place of love. I recall speaking at Lifest last year and told the crowd “we simply ought to love everyone that comes into church. If....IF something has to change in anyone, we must let that come from the Holy Spirit.” Just because someone comes into a church that looks different, acts different, lives a different lifestyle or comes from a different social class does not mean the pastor ought to gear a message specifically at that person. More times than not the person that message is being directed at simply will not come back....and I don’t blame them. It is one thing if the Holy Spirit uses a message to prompt someones heart. That is divine, mystical and awesome. I have fed the machine and seen plenty of speakers however that will see someone that, by their standards needs Christ. Therefore they will put a zinger in their message directed at them. Not cool.
Imagine a place where strippers, homeless, white collar, blue collar, goths, farmers, etc. could all come together because they know it truly is the Lord’s house and everyone is welcome. That is what we try to do at Radiant Fellowship (the church I pastor) and what I try to do in my own life. God loves everyone....I think we ought to do the same.
I believe what Shane Claiborne said, “a church should attract the people Jesus attracted and frustrate the people Jesus frustrated.”