Summary: Becoming a Community Church by builing a community of acceptance.
Building a Community of Acceptance
Colossians 3:12-14 (New American Standard Bible)
12So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
14Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is kind of esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.
Across the street from the campus is a church, the members of which are well-dressed and very conservative. They want to develop a ministry to the students but are not sure how to go about it.
One day Bill decides to visit that church. He walks in wearing his jeans, T-shirt, wild hair, and no shoes and starts down the center aisle looking for a place to sit. The church is completely packed, and he can’t find a seat. The members look a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes that there are no seats left, he just sits down on the carpet.
By now the members are really uptight; tension fills the air.
Then, from the back of the church, a deacon slowly makes his way toward Bill. Now in his eighties, the deacon has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. He’s a godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane, and as he heads toward Bill all the members are saying to themselves, “You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and background to understand a college kid on the floor?”
It takes a long time for the old man to get down the aisle. All eyes are focused on him. The church is utterly silent. The minister can’t even begin preaching until the deacon does what he has to do. When he reaches the front, the congregation watches as he, with great difficulty, lowers himself and sits down next to Bill so he won’t be alone.
When the minister gains control of himself, he says, “What I’m about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.”
Acceptance! We all crave it, we all desire it, but we are not as quick to give it. Each of us wants people who will care for us, people who will stand for us in bad times. We want people who will accept us instead of criticizing and judging us. I want that! So do you! So does the community that surrounds us.
People are looking for acceptance. A place where they are free to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, and grow from them. That’s the kind of place the church should be! It’s the kind of place that Christ intended for the church to be, though you and I know that often that is not the case. If we are going to truly become a community church we have to learn how to be accepting of that community.
And I’m excited because I see this church becoming that kind of place; where discouraged, heartbroken people find strength and healing, where confused people find help and guidance, where people weighed down with sin find forgiveness and relief. When we become this kind of church lives will be changed and we will see the love of God flowing around us in abundance.
People will see that something is different at that old church on Peninsula Drive, they will see that we care about people. They will see that we love people. They will see that it’s not just a religious doctrine, or an obligation, but rather a blessing for us to reach out to our community and lend a hand. They will see that it is not about a program or a class, but it’s about a “who”. It’s about Christ who loved us, therefore we love others.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." – John 13:34-35
In the days when the great evangelist Moody was preaching in Chicago, a man, partially under the influence of liquor, seeing the warm lights of Moody’s tabernacle, staggered up the steps to the front door. Upon opening it, he saw no one within, but he did see the motto hanging above the pulpit: “God Is Love.” The man slammed the door, staggered down the steps, and muttered to himself, “God is love? God is not love. If God were love, He would love me, and He hates me.”