Dear Hope Family,
If you were not already sufficiently aware, I can empirically verify that being a preacher is a strange calling! My family could readily attest that living with a preacher is, indeed, also a bizarre station in life. We often joke that instead of the college fund for our children, the more pressing need is the counseling fund. There will certainly be some job-security for the folks at the Barnabas Center for years to come – even if only for the ministry families in our midst.
Preachers are walking paradoxes – weird combinations of confidence and insecurity. After hours of praying and close reading and diligent sermon preparation, preachers are often beset with fits of post-sermon depression and wake up in the middle of the night with moans and sighs of what was actually communicated, what should have been communicated, and what was fumbled or passed over in the delivery. And preachers’ families get to live with such bumbling bundles of contradictions and moodiness – hence, the counseling fund.
One of the on-the-way-home-from-church-
So much of our culture prescribes diversity and tolerance, acceptance and openness as general, assumed virtues and good practices. The language is standard and agreeable. We should “accept everybody”. It would have been, perhaps, easy to reduce the meaning of the passage and the message of the sermon to a similar slogan: “Christians need to be more accepting of people.” Yes. Of course. But not much friction. Not much edge. Not much staying power to such an assertion. Why should we have open arms?
The church is not simply mimicking the common sense prescriptions of the culture; rather, openness to and acceptance of the world’s magnificent, God-designed diversity are rooted in the firm conviction that all humans bear God’s image, that all humans are broken by sin and stand in need of redemption, and that Christ’s grace and finished work are enough to repair that brokenness and supply that redemption – regardless of nation, race, language, and social status.
“Accept everyone” is too thin and too general to do justice to the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus. We extend welcome and grace to all because we have received the exquisite welcome and extravagant grace of Christ! God’s kindness leads us to repentance and faith – not the color of our skin, the neighborhood in which we live, the institutions in which we have been formed, the language we speak, or people we know!
Grace and peace,