Posted by: Rex Boyles | December 5, 2007

“They would not feel comfortable here.”

It is a quote … as direct as I could get from the person who heard it. “They would not feel comfortable here.”

It was the answer given to a young Christian’s question by one of the Church leaders, when asked, “Is it okay, if some of us get some tracts and ‘knock doors’ around the building?”

The answer, “They would not feel comfortable here.”

I don’t know if the leader prefaced his answer with:

“Don’t waste your time, because they …”

“It won’t do any good, because they …”

“If you want to do that, go right ahead, but they …”

Whatever the preface … the conclusion is the same. That kind of thinking and reasoning reveals an arrogance – callousness – indifference that maligns the Word of God … denies the Church’s purpose … and betrays the heart of Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28, NIV)  

“Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every living creature.” (Mark 16:15; MRB – my real Bible)

“Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” (Luke 14:21; NIV)

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32; NIV)

God … “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2: 4; NIV) 

Do you see the problem? 

Who … would not feel comfortable here?

  • Is he talking about “sinners”?
  • Is he talking about “poor” people?
  • Is he talking about people of different races?
  • Is he talking about people of other religions?
  • Is he talking about people who have never been here before?

Where … would they not feel comfortable?

  • Is he saying they would not feel comfortable in this building?
  • Is he saying they would not feel comfortable with the Church members?
  • Is he saying they would not feel comfortable hearing these songs or sermons?
  • Is he saying they would not feel comfortable using this language?
  • Is he saying they would not feel comfortable discussing these topics? 

What was he really saying? What did he really mean?

 If it is the leader that will not feel comfortable – let him repent (or resign).

If it is the Church that will not feel comfortable – let them repent or else remove the name Christ from their sign, stationery, and charter.

If it is … really is … the neighbors – the sinners next door – that will not feel comfortable … let us go to them – into their homes – sharing good news with them – accepting them – befriending them – loving them – inviting them, like prodigals, to come home. What they are wearing will not matter – what they are driving will not matter – what they are doing for a living – those things will not even be noticed – if the Church will welcome them home and celebrate with them. 

Can I ask one more question? How does he know that that “they” will not feel comfortable? When is the last time he ever sat down with one of “them” … opened his Bible – opened his mouth – opened his heart?

But these questions are not for him – some nameless leader … they are for me – for my heart – for my life. When is the last time I offered someone comfort? When is the last time I let myself be uncomfortable to make another comfortable?

p.s. Early on in my days back home – it was not just uncomfortable to be “in church” – it was painful. My heart ached physically – it was hard to breathe. One Sunday night – “after church” – I was standing off to the side, trying to catch my breath – trying not to run away …. Greg and Ruth Lance asked me if I would like to go have supper with them. Several of the young folks were going to Leal’s in Muleshoe, and they wanted to know if I would go with them – WITH THEM. In that invitation – supper – time with them – I found comfort and felt loved.

Damn the ignorance, arrogance, insecurity – whatever it is that it in us that makes us avoid – neglect – reject anyone, because “they would not feel comfortable here”.

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