Today Bonnie and I are headed home after a great weekend in Castlegar and Slocan, BC, Canada. God did some great things at Castlegar Christian Fellowship and at Junction Covenant Church. Thank you to all who came with such hungry, willing, and teachable hearts.
Once again, I am dealing with the question of how do we deal with people who come from the world who don’t act like they should in every way?
As communities of Christ, we must first create an environments where anyone and everyone is welcome to come. In this, we don’t require people to change to belong. We say, you belong and by that we know that everyone can be changed. We should look at all people through a vision of a Father who loves His children. We shouldn’t look at anyone through a lens of judging whether this one is a sinner, or this one is not a sinner. We should always look with a view of is a child of God, there is a child, and that’s a child of God. They are not a child of God because they love God, they are a child of God because God loves them. This creates a question. How do we create an environment of love and acceptance? If we measure people from the world by the law, they will leave. A safer place for them to be, and a more able place to see them change, is the church. At the door we are communicating: We love you, you belong, follow us, see that He is good. You don’t have to believe, we believe. Just be around us. We want you around us. Watch how life is working for us. God loves you as He loves us.
Sinners come from societies of sin, cultures that don’t have fathers. Do we accept them living together, but not married? That is a common thing in our cultures. Or they may be in some other customs. In some African cultures they may have two or three wives, what do we do? They come with habits that the world has that the world doesn’t see as a problem. We cannot expect them to act as God wants them to act. Our first responsibility is to create an environment where everyone is welcome to come and be changed. We have to create an open door of mercy that leads to the place of finding grace. Law does not change people. I am not interested in returning to law. Sometimes we write new bylaws new constitutions and new ways of doing things and we think we are free from the law. We say, we are really grateful that we are no longer under the law. We don’t do those feasts and those required sacrifices, but then we create our own version of feasts, celebrations, sacrifices and other requirements we create another law that we impose upon others. What may be faith for us because we heard God becomes a law for others when we put it upon them. The things we come up with may be really good ideas. We may have gotten together as leaders, we prayed, we heard God and we wrote down what we heard. What we heard is great, it is faith for us as leaders. We heard, but when we try to present that to people who come to us it is not faith for them. We put law on them. We don’t have a responsibility of hearing God for people, we’re responsible to lead them to the place where they can hear. Our first responsibility is to create an environment that tells them they are welcome, they belong, they don’t have to believe for God to love them. We also want to create an environment where everyone can overcome things that bring destruction into their lives, but first we have to create an environment that communicates to sinners they have a Father who loves them and their sins are forgiven. We have to develop a relationship with God that presents a power that brings about change by the power of His love.
Ted J. Hanson
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