God, please send us the people that nobody wants and let us demonstrate your hospitality to all. Help us to see the people that live around our church so that our invitation will be with open hearts. Create a place of acceptance so that all feel welcome just as Christ welcomed us.
Well, we are up to it again at a Church in the Heart of Princeton. We are spending several weeks in worship doing a series called “Ask Almost Anything.” As the name implies, we are allowing people to anonymously email or drop off questions that I will then attempt to answer during our sermon time. (Some have referred to this as “Stump the Chump” but that name was already taken by a radio show.)
On this past Sunday I was able to address two questions. One was on observing the Sabbath and the second was on the theological idea of predestination. You can find my answers here.
We ended the time of AAA with a very thought provoking question that I promised to answer via this blog and in worship next Sunday. The question was: “Why does it seem that Christians can be some of the most judgmental people in the world?”
Let me point out that the first thing that struck me with this question is that it asserts that Christians ARE judgmental. The person who asked this question has found themselves on one end or the other of the judgmental tendencies of our faith.
Now, if you asked me if it were “inevitable” that Christians be judgmental, I would have to answer with a resounding, “No!” If you asked me if I thought Christians can be judgmental, I would answer (somewhat judgmentally, I must add as a disclaimer) that “Yes. Yes, we certainly can fall into that category at times.”
The assumed position of the question writer – that Christian are at times judgmental – led me to pause before I gave a full answer and reflect this question back to our congregation. I asked them to think and pray about this and even ask themselves: “How can I be less judgmental this week?”
I’m glad I waited to answer this.
On Tuesday a new video came out from “Chuck Knows Church.” If you are not familiar with this series, I invite you to check out any of these videos – they are both informative and entertaining. The new video that came out on Tuesday, however, is the first part of a longer series being produced that takes a hard look at how a church might turn itself around from the brink of closure. I have been looking forward to this series but was absolutely astounded at how much the first episode, not to be confused with the introductory episode, fit the answer I really wanted to give about this question.
I invite you to watch the episode before you read any further.
Okay, if you took the time to watch the video, and again, I would highly suggest it, then you might now understand the prayer at the beginning of this post. It is the prayer that ends the episode and points out that hospitality is not something we “do at church” – it is a lifestyle we have received with Christ. That’s right…along with giving us eternal life and forgiveness, Jesus gave us hospitality. Jesus chose to welcome us and imparted upon us that same Spirit so that we can be people of hospitality as well.
So, about this “judgmental” question…
I guess the best answer to give is that Christians become judgmental when they refuse the gift of hospitality that has been given to them. When we reject or forget or otherwise lay aside the welcome Christ gave to us, then we will very quickly become judgmental. However, if we hold on to the gift, well, that would lead us down a different path altogether. We would be accepting of those who disagree with us. We would be welcoming to those who are different than us. We would see each person as someone Jesus’ wants to welcome into God’s Kingdom and the judgment can then be left up to someone much more qualified.
I hope this answer helps!
Oh…and if you have any questions, ask Chuck. Tell him your pastor sent you! 😉