Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders." Matthew 9:12-13 (TM)
A few weeks ago I sat in the lobby of our church. Like many churches, the "insiders" of our congregation appear to fit the mold of social acceptability and religious perfection. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and we’re learning to look on the inside instead. We’re continually transforming into a group of Jesus followers who have the welcome mat out to those outside our social comfort zone.
I was jazzed to watch one of our pastors escorting a young couple through the lobby a few weeks ago. The couple’s appearance was the exact opposite of the "perfection mold" we tend to broadcast. They were rough people on the exterior. They were the social "riffraff" the Jewish leaders would have complained Jesus was hanging out with. They were the people you’d least expect to walk through the doors of our church.
I watched with joy and delight as our pastor treated them like V.I.P.s. She was focusing all her attention on them. She was excited to show them around. Looking at her body language and facial expressions, you’d have thought she was giving a tour to the Queen of England. They were the most important people in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited in our church as I was at that moment. Our doors are open. The welcome mat is out.
The doors of our church are open, and there are "smoker stations" at each of them.