Congregational assemble should be a time when we can have some level of vulnerability. That is more true of meeting in homes than in an auditorium but it should be true of both. The problem is, we are human and we have been conditioned to be very quick to make judgments based on very little information that we believe are absolute. Someone comes forward and we expect the worse. Someone shares a difficulty and people think less of them. We have to start helping people become more loving, more gentle and more humble about their ability to make accurate assumptions based on 1% of the information.
Some of this can be said through preaching but it must also be practiced in real ways other than just talking about it and teaching on it. The church must see the leadership embrace those who are suffering, hurting and broken. The congregation must see that they are to “go and do likewise”. One of our greatest forms of service and transformation among God’s people should be our ability to help reconcile people and move them toward wholeness. That will only happen when and if people are safe to express their hurts and make themselves vulnerable. Few people will do that but the ones who do should be treated with gentleness, love and respect.
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Luke 15:1 states, “Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him”.
Why did the sinners feel comfortable enough with Jesus to approach him, to come near to him? He embraced them. And nowhere does the Bible indicate that he used techniques or gimmicks to bring them close so they would see him as “friend”. He simply embraced them and spoke of the Kingdom of God which was near them, among them, within them.
Maybe it is time for preachers, teachers and astute members to remind all within the church, “WE are the tax collectors and sinners. And unless we embrace one another we are going to continue to live the lonely lives that performing church members have been living for too long”. And when outsiders see that, rather than programs, then maybe they will see the church as children of God, as children of Humanity.