Ansell: You might have a better address, but none of us are any better in God's eyes
We lived in a small town once that I always thought was a lot like Mayberry and it had this old motel. It was a lot like the Bates Motel in the movie "Psycho." This motel was past its prime and was now one of those pay-by-the-week places and I’m guessing most of us would prefer not to call this place home. And while we don’t want to live there. I hope the church still cares about those who do.
Because of that, I went to the Bates Motel to invite the “least of these” to come to our Sunday worship service and hear that God is good (all the time). I gotta be honest, I was scared for a couple of reasons. One of my concerns was a fairly aggressive woman that was standing in the doorway of her room asking me, “Who the hell are you?” As I approached her I could see a man in her room with nothing on but his under clothing laying on the bed. After I told her I was just inviting people to church she apologized and hugged me. I’m not sure which was worse: the cussing or the hugging (I’m not a hugger and have a little germ freak in me and the fact that you could see her underclothing through her shirt probably did not help).
The next week the Mayberry Gazette’s front page headline was, “Drug Bust at the Bates Motel.” No kidding, they made a big drug bust after my visit, no wonder I was scared.
One of the other reasons I was scared or concerned about my visit to the Bates Motel is sometimes the church does not want Otis the town drunk or the prostitute that washes feet, kisses them, pours perfume on them and wipes them with her hair to come to church (Luke 7:36-50). It makes them uncomfortable doesn’t it? So I was wondering "what if these people actually showed up, what will the members of my church say?" We want people like this to go to church, just not “our” church — does that make sense?
Most people won’t believe it but I have been bad. Once I stuck gum under my desk at school and I skipped school once (maybe twice) and for that I deserve wrath and judgment (Romans 6:23). By the world’s standards, these sins may not be that bad but by God’s standards my sin, my humanity deserves death (Romans 3:10, 23, 5:12).
So when I see Otis, or what we call any social outcast, I see myself. I am so unworthy of Christ and the cross (Romans 5:6-8). Even after being a Christian for 45 years and a professional Christian for 20 the only thing good in me is God (Mark 10:18). If I was left by myself I would spit and cuss all day long, shake my fist toward heaven and probably be living in the Bates Motel (Romans 8:7, 1st Corinthians 2:14, John 6:44, Jeremiah 17:9).
The knowledge and experience I have of God’s love through Christ draws me like a magnet to these people who live at the Bates Motel (it should draw you, too). I want them to know what I know and have what I have. I might have a better address than them but I’m not really better and none of us is. English pastor John Bradford probably said it best, “There but for the grace of God go I.” He told me to tell you that.