Turning away the sinners does not help the church

Published 5:14 am Monday, July 17, 2023

In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi said that in his student days he read the Bible and seriously considered becoming a Christian.
He wrote, “Christianity offered the real solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.”
So he went to a nearby church, but the ushers refused him a seat and suggested that he go back and worship with his own people. He left and never went back.
Gandhi said, “If Christians have caste differences also, I might as well remain a Hindu.”
One of the most influential people in the world, who could have led thousands of people to Christ, was denied his opportunity to find Him because he was not welcome in the church!
I wonder how many people have walked through the doors of a church and left without finding God because someone failed to love them.
Several years ago, I wrote a poem that really brings this problem to light:
If Jesus came to your church, I wonder what He would find…
Would He be greeted with smiles, hugs, and words so kind?
Or would He walk through the door alone and unseen,
And have to take a seat in the back like someone who’s unclean?
Would He find the opening prayer encouraging and uplifting –
Or only done half-heartedly while other’s minds are drifting?
Would the songs that are sung glorify His Father–
Or would there be no song at all and no one who would bother?
Would they give cheerfully to those who are in need–
Or would the offering be taken grudgingly and let Welfare meet the need?
Would you allow Him behind your pulpit despite what He wore – Or deny Him the chance to testify that He’s your risen Lord?
Would He have plenty of time during the service to pray – Or would He feel rushed and have to hurry for time’s sake?
And when all is said and done and the final prayer is given – Would He leave encouraged or distressed by the way we’re livin’?
You see, Jesus has been to your church, disguised as a visitor, in fact – And the real question is this: will He come back?
In James 2:1-4, the Bible warns us about showing favoritism: “My brethren, don’t have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with respect of persons.
For if there comes into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there also comes in a poor man in vile raiment; and you have respect to him that wears the fine clothing, and say unto him, ‘Sit here in a good place;’ and say to the poor, ‘Stand there or sit under my footstool.’
You are partial in yourselves and are become judges of evil thoughts.”
James is saying the poor have just as much right to be in our churches as the rich do.
The unsaved have every right to be in our churches as the Christians do.
It makes no difference what color their skin is because the Body of Christ is not segregated.
When Christians begin to put all their differences aside and love everyone the same… then we will finally become the church God called us to be and Jesus will feel welcome again!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia.

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