From the Well - 1/29/2017

He drew a circle that shut me out,

A heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout,

But love and I had a wit to win,

We drew a circle that took him in. 

In Warsaw Germany, right before Hitler's invasion, A Quaker missionary was working in the ghettos. Her death caused a major problem in that little town. There was a Roman Catholic cemetery and a Jewish cemetery, but there was no place to bury a Quaker. Finally, the Arch Bishop agreed to let the missionary be buried outside the fence of the Roman Catholic Cemetery. Thousands came to the service because the missionary had given her life for the least and the lost in the community. The night after the service somebody had a wit to win. They went out and moved the fence and took her in.

The church should be about drawing a circle that takes people in rather than drawing a circle to keep people out. Jesus was all about drawing a circle to include people. He drew a circle around the prostitute, the tax collector, the leper, the sick, the poor, and the outcast. He took in all those that the law tried to keep out.

Unfortunately, even today, not all Christians can worship together and kneel at the same Lord's Table, because certain groups deny others the sacrament. Not all Christians can pray together because there are those who deem spurious the prayer of other groups. Not all Christians can lovingly speak together of who Jesus is, why He died and for He died. Not all Christians can share the joyful promise of eternal life because certain Christians have made themselves "gatekeepers" and have determined that other believers will not enter the Kingdom of God.

It is easy to despair of unity with the preponderance of such elitism, division, and petty factionalism. We too quickly forget Jesus' example. Think of Jesus disciples and the diversity of that small group. What does a Jewish tax collector like Matthew have in common with a Zealot like Simon? How can a common fisherman from rural Galilee like Peter relate to a sophisticated urbanite from Judea like Judas? 

The thing that unifies the twelve is Jesus. If we cannot make Jesus our unifying focus then we cannot be the church. We cannot insist that everyone in the church be like-minded. We cannot insist that we all dress alike or act alike but we can insist that Christ is our goal. We can insist on growth in faith with Christ as our guide. Think about it.

Pastor Matthew