Would You Welcome These People In Your Church?
I have to admit, many years ago I would have said, “Wow! These are not Christians. They are scary. Well, maybe not the USMC guy. He’s military and served our Country. God bless him.” I’m not sure I would have welcomed the other people into my life, much less the church. But you know what? JESUS welcomed everybody no matter what they looked like or came from. In today’s society, we need people with their background to reach the ones that do not look like us or have the same background. I’m not saying these people are not Christians, but what if they walked into your church? Would you automatically condemn them and say they are not a Christian? Let me ask you another question. What is the criteria you used to make that determination? Their outward appearance? 2 Corinthians 10:7 says, “Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.” What about James 2:1-8? V1 “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord JESUS Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. V2 For if there should come into your assembly (church) a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, (he or she probably smells bad also) V3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” (on the front row where everyone can see you) and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” (in the back out of sight or downwind) or, “Sit here at my footstool,” (You should be at my feet because I’m better than you) V4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? (Well, if they would apply themselves, they could get a job.) V5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (Trust me when I say it won’t be at any church where people look down on them) V6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? V7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? V8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well;
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
In Luke 10:29-37 (Good Samaritan account) a lawyer asked JESUS “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to JESUS, “And who is my neighbor?” Then JESUS answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side (I believe he didn’t want to get involved). Likewise a Levite (they were assistants to Priests), when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side (again, look like they didn’t want to get involved either). But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ (WOW! That is compassion) JESUS asked, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then JESUS said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
In James 2:8-13 it says, “IF YOU REALLY FULFILL THE ROYAL LAW ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURE, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” YOU DO WELL; but if you show partiality (an unfair tendency to treat one person, group, or thing better than another), you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
What this is saying is if you show partiality you are sinning, convicted by the law as a transgressor. It also says if you commit adultery or murder, you are convicted by the law as a transgressor. It says if you keep the whole law (do not commit adultery, do not murder, and oh yeah, don’t show partiality) and yet stumble in ONE point (partiality), you are guilty of ALL. So Christians who don’t show mercy, will not receive mercy. MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT.
I know there a few churches that do really mean “come as you are”, but every church that proclaims JESUS Christ as Lord should welcome people into the church “as you are”. The problem I see is that they SAY that, but don’t really mean it. You can tell when you walk into some churches whether you really are welcomed or just tolerated.
A “Modesty in Physical Appearance” statement that I read really got me to thinking along these lines of partiality. I have a hard time with double standards. On one hand, it’s OK for WOMEN (not men) to pierce their ears but not OK to pierce your nose. So, where did the “standard” or “norm” come from that piercing of ears is OK but not nose? Sounds like a double standard to me. Someone may say, “Well, piercing of WOMEN’s ears is accepted today.” So is piercing of the nose. It is funny because even the “Character Series” that I read from this particular denomination/fellowship (and there are others) said that back in the beginning of this denomination/fellowship, pierced ears on a women was considered sinful because it was associated with “loose women” (I was actually raised with this belief). That belief is no longer held in our society, it is acceptable for a WOMEN to pierce her ears. If you want to be fair (not religious) it is accepted among men also. What I want to know is, where does the Bible say it is OK for women to pierce their ears but not their nose? So is this just for women? Does the Bible specify a difference between a man or a woman piercing their ears? Let’s dig deeper. Where does the Bible say only the ears? Why can’t a person pierce their belly button? It’s offensive to whom and why do they find it offensive? Is it because it is different?
The funny thing is this particular denomination/fellowship, like most denomination/fellowships, base many of their doctrines on Old Testament ideas. If the Old Testament brought us closer to God then we wouldn’t need JESUS. But that is a subject for another post. Anyway, in the Old Testament there was a girl by the name of Rebekah who wore a nose jewel. In Genesis 24:22 it says, “…….. the man took a golden NOSE RING weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels of gold,”. Then in verse 30, “So it came to pass, when he (her brother) saw the NOSE RING, and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, ………”. In verse 47, “….. ‘So I put the NOSE RING on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists.’ Wait a minute! Did that just say, “NOSE RING”? Apparently, even in the Old Testament, God didn’t have a problem with it. Unfortunately, this particular denomination/fellowship believe they got it all figured out and they are not alone.
It is very interesting the statement of this denomination/fellowship says that the fashion scene today is piercing of the nose, lips, cheeks, EARS, navels, tongues, etc. is “heathenish” and yet EAR piercing (in the middle of their list) is acceptable today in their denomination. Interesting.
What if a Marine came into their church with a USMC tattoo, would anything be said? If so, it would probably be, “Thank you for serving our Country.” But if someone came in with a tattoo that was not “patriotic”, would they be looked down upon? Probably not.
So my question is, if someone came into your church looking different than you, what would your reaction be? I had to examine myself and found I was leaning in the partiality area with some lacking in the “mercy” area of my life. Please examine yourself.
With Love, Cincinnati Christian
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