My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? James 2:1
In Texas, one of my friends lived right across the street; however, to enter her neighborhood, you had to put in a code so the gate would open. The gate blocked outsiders from entry.
I wonder if Naomi and Ruth felt this way when they returned to Israel. Did they experience the invisible, yet very real, barriers to community? According to the commands given to Moses recorded in Leviticus, God did not intend for the widow or the foreigner to be treated marginally. Thankfully, Boaz, who displayed the character of our Father God, ensured that Naomi and Ruth were protected, cared for and welcomed into his family.
Unfortunately, the church can be a lonely place, even for someone who is a child of God. Invisible gates bar access to closer community. Some people seem to gain entry into the inner circles and are more easily included. For others, they just can’t seem to get in without the code and secret handshake. Unfortunately, I have felt this way after following the steps, doing what was requested, yet still not welcomed. If this happens more than a couple of times, someone may get frustrated with the whole church experience.
The church should absolutely NOT be a gated community. There should not be formidable obstructions to keep someone out. There should not be (invisible) fences making someone feel they do not belong. In Matthew 5:47, Jesus challenges us by declaring if we only greet our brothers, how are we acting any differently from the world? Jesus chose to die a publicly humiliating and excruciatingly painful death so we would be welcomed into His household. How petty of us to pick and choose who fits in better or is more desirable for our church communities. Maybe it is actually a compliment if the world notices, “Look who they welcome through their church doors.”
In Matthew 25, Jesus describes what will happen when the Son of Man comes in His Glory. Some standing in judgement before the King will ask, “When did we take care of you? “And the King will answer, “Truly I say to you, to the extent you did it to the least one of these you did it to Me.” As God’s ambassadors, let us offer open doors not locked gates.
3 thoughts on “Gated Communities”
I love this Lynn. I can relate to being the one outside the gate, as well as the one keeping someone else outside. I am evaluating myself, rather than a church. I find it to be a complex subject. For instance, God wants us to love and welcome everyone, yet, we can’t be friends with everyone. Neither time, location, interests, or even personalities allow that. This is where it gets complex for me. Looking forward to discussing it with you. Let’s talk about this soon.
I totally agree with you both on this subject. Sometimes it is our own insecurities or “issues” that makes it difficult to share in church or to be “gated” in a sense. Creating our own boundaries of protection from the world.
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Lynn has a way of taking abstract ideas and painting them as vivid pictures so the lessons of Scripture go right to our hearts. This is one like that. — how church — with emphasis on certain dress, or certain knowledge, or a certain vocabulary — can indeed put up those barriers to keep out those who most need to be welcomed in, those whose entry would make Jesus smile.