When I was a kid there was a cigarette company that advertised, “You’ve come a long way baby.” They were targeting women. The church has come a long way but I was reminded recently that we still have a long way to go.
I had coffee with a friend last week that was talking about how the church should be a safe place where all including church staff can be less than perfect, still be accepted and still be employed.
We were at a dinner party over the holiday season, too, where I realized the church is still very much a place of segregation (us and them, sinners and Pharisees). At the party someone brought up how a “minister of music” had gotten too friendly with some of the choir members and should have been fired. I thought I read somewhere that he should have been forgiven, not necessarily terminated. The guy without sin gets to throw the first stone, right? I am not for adultery or any other sin but I am for grace and less rock throwing.
At our Christmas Eve service someone who grew up in the church but has been out of it for more than 10 years was in attendance and they felt unsure about participating in the Lord’s Supper (communion). This one whom I love very much will tell you they are not a Christian. As the Holy Grail got passed, this person said they felt judged, wondering if they took part what people would think and equally concerned what people would think if they did not partake. This was like a much too early hotel wake up call for me. Wow! Somehow we have the ability, with or without malice to make people feel insecure, don’t we? They still have to fit in don’t they?
I had shared a story during the service about a woman who never felt “good” enough to take communion. The priest overseeing the service said, “Take it woman, Jesus died for you.” I think we all know that only Christ-Followers should receive the elements but there was something good about this lost soul who felt like they were being assessed by the congregation participating, being reminded of what Jesus has done, some would say even done for them, even if they are outside of Christ.
I taught on love this past Sunday. Those of us in the church are to be an expression of God’s love … love if anything is to be tangible, something real, something earthy, love often requires grit … but that kind of love is hard to find … with a “church on every corner” the people of Bedford Falls should almost all have some experiential knowledge of God’s love through us, His people. But they don’t, do they? We have come a long way baby, but we still have a long way to go … He told me to tell you that.
Ken Ansell is the pastor of Community Life Church in Waxahachie (www.communitylifechurch.tv). The church meets at 10:30 Sunday mornings at the Waxahachie Country Club.