I ran into a college aged friend the other day.
Over the years I discovered she's one of the smartest people I know. She's thoughtful, honest and passionate. Every time I'm with her I learn something about God, life and myself. She also happens to be lesbian.
We hadn't spoken to each other in a long time and in an attempt to casually catch up I simply asked her how her summer was going. I should have known better. She's not the kind of person who keeps things "casual". Of course she got right to the point. That's one of the many reasons I love her and always enjoy spending time with her.
"Summer has been tough. I was kicked out of my church because I couldn't say I was a heterosexual woman." As she told me what had happened there was very little emotion in her voice but I could tell from her eyes she felt incredibly misunderstood, unloved and rejected.
My heart hurt for her.
Ok, I know there are at least 2 sides to every story. Perhaps someone is totally justified in asking her not to come back to church. I should give her former church the benefit of a doubt. But really? Kicked out of church?
So many thoughts rushed to my mind.
Was this particular church kicking men and woman addicted to porn out of the church?
Are they kicking unrepentant gossips out of the church?
Are they kicking people out of the church who are addicted to their own pride and not willing to deal with it?
Are they kicking people out of the church who are greedy and not generous with their possessions?
Are they kicking people out of the church who are consistently hypocritical?
Perhaps someone patiently and lovingly pointed her to truth. Maybe there are people walking through life with her and encouraging her. She could have misunderstood what was said to her.
And so, I come back to the fact that I don't know the whole story but it made me wonder about me and my church. How are we doing loving people where they are?
The church has been called by God to love every person where they are and patiently help them move towards the heart of God. The church should be a place where people can come just as they are and freely engage with truth in an environment of love and acceptance.
As I try to believe the best about my friend's church my interaction with her drives me to pray for and hopefully influence my church to love people who enter our doors...just the way they are. We must be a place where the any person can come to find hope and healing.
Jesus said it best...
And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick."
That's the way Jesus loves each of us and if there's anyone who needs healing it's me. I need the great physician.
May our church and churches everywhere learn to accept people where they are. It's not always nice and antiseptic but it's what Jesus longs for his church to be.
Chime in if you would...