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Loving the Unlovely February 9, 2011

Posted by theronwatson in Uncategorized.
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Matt 5:43-48
You know what really separates Christians from the rest of the world? Love. Or, it should be. Christians ought to be people who love. Not some romantic love. Not some mamby-pamby sweetness love. We do not need to change our words and phrases to mimic some sugary sweet so and so. We do not have to carefully um, consider um, the um, exact wording of what we are um, trying to say. We do not have to “tsk” at the end of every phrase as some are in the habit of doing, especially when praying. This does not get God’s attention any more than anything else and is so annoying that people will turn you off and not listen. NO. Christians do not need a change of language or vocabulary as much as we should have a change of heart and attitude.
What are people looking for when they enter our church houses and gathering places? They looking to be accepted and loved, right? Yes. But, not in some over the top, sticky sweet fashion. Rather, they want to be valued. Very often however, a new person enters a church and is ignored. More than that, others (home folk as we call them) cut side-long glances and secretly wonder, “Who is this now? Why have they come into my church?” The answer is simple. This is one of God’s beloved. We should not offer to our friends more hospitality than anyone else. We should not prefer one person over another. It is easy though, especially if one person appears to be homeless and looking for a handout and the other is in a suit and looks they just left the office. Both need Jesus and preferential treatment is not, should not be what Christians offer.
If you doubt what I am saying here, try it. Dress in scraggly clothes and visit another church and see how you are received. We can learn a lot by visiting other churches.
When I was in seminary in New Orleans, I often liked to get out of the city. You could call it a Sunday drive. One Sunday evening in particular, my family and I were going along and decided to stop along the way and visit a little, country church for their evening service. We walked in and got all the side-ways looks and questioning expressions one might expect, but no one greeted us. As we settled into a pew, two little old ladies walked up and stood over me and said, “You’re in our seat.” They did not say hello or anything else, just that. I said, “I did not realize there was assigned seating here.” To which they responded, “They don’t, but this is our seat.” I thought maybe they had donated the pew and asked them. No, their “donated” pew was up front. This is where they sat, where they always sat, and we had to move. So we did. We nearly left.
What if we had been new in the area? How would that interchange have colored a seeker’s view of the church as a whole not to mention this one congregation. This was not a demonstration of love. We should do better. Let’s practice what we preach.

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