That is a question we get pretty often at The Community Fellowship, and this is a church where I can honestly say, YES. Everyone is welcome. It is our desires to give second chances and to be a part of God’s redemption process.
Yet in the middle of the process even the people who offer the most grace need to be careful. It is easy to become callus, to judge the people closest to us and to close off some people who need the acceptance and love of God the most. I have to be careful to not let people walk all over me, but I also have to be careful to make sure all people, even those furthest from God or least deserving in my opinion, experience God.
As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” 6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
I have heard or read that story several times. It has been part of our small group’s discussion the last two weeks, and once again I am touched by the welcoming power of God’s grace.
Jesus didn’t excuse sin. Jesus didn’t rank sin saying that this lady didn’t do anything that bad. What Jesus did was level the field by reminding the religious people that every one has sinned. On the flip side of the coin, every one needs the grace and acceptance of God.
Move a few verses ahead and you read what Jesus says to this lady; you can leave, but don’t sin any more. Those are powerful words that said I accept you. Those words shout that you are welcome here. She had to be scared and most likely didn’t ask the question as the title of this devotion states. But I don’t believe that she received what she expected.
The law said this lady should have been stoned. The law says that committing adultery is wrong. Both those statements are true, yet Jesus said that judging this lady based on our human, faulty thinking is wrong. We can’t judge anyone. We have messed up. We have sinned, and that sin will keep us out of heaven. We need Jesus to accept us.
It is time for the church and for each of us to say once again when we are asked if someone is welcome, it is time we say YES. Say it loud. Say it where the people that are far from God hear what you say. Say it strong so those who don’t think they deserve being welcome will believe they are. Say it often so that we will stop and think about not looking down our noses or judging the people closest to us.
Get ready. Someone soon is going to ask you: am I welcome there?
Sharon Joyce and her family as they deal with her mom’s (Betty Lawson) funeral. Visitation will be tonight from 6 to 8pm, and the funeral will be Friday at 2pm. Both will be at Roselawn Chapel Funeral Home.