I've been listening to the song If We Are The Body by Casting Crowns a bit ever since CreationFest. The song describes the sad state in our churches where we don't welcome strangers with open arms. The two verses are:
It's crowded in worship today
As she slips in trying to fade into the faces
The girls teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know
But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way
A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road
Today's passage moved me, especially after listening to this song and, sadly, even looking around our church and youth group.
Last week my cousin was up visiting. Thursday evening she came with me to Starbucks and very, very few people in the group introduced themselves to her. Even fewer made her really feel welcome.
Earlier that day Caitlyn Tracy (and all the Tracy's) opened their home and horses up to us. Phylicia had really wanted to go horseback riding, but we hadn't found anywhere near here that would be fun for a teenager. For those that don't know her, Caitlyn has been riding horses for years, taking lessons and is generally very good at it. I gave them a call seeing if they had suggestions of places to go, and Caitlyn jumped at the chance to let Phylicia ride horses with her.
I did find out later that Caitlyn was a little nervous about it, thinking it might be ok to let Phylicia ride for a little while then hang out with another friend. In the end Caitlyn and Phylicia both had a great time and began a good friendship. Both of them took a chance and tried working in harmony with one-another. Caitlyn didn't let her own experience with horses let her ignore Phylicia and her inexperience. At Starbucks that night Phylicia and Caitlyn were joined at the hip.
So often we ignore the person who wants to be ignored. Someone comes into the room and stands off in the corner... how often do we say hello to them?
The beauty of this passage is that God is telling us that we are his body. We must not hate, but instead show peace and love for those who treat us badly. We must remember that no matter how God has gifted us in this life, we should always welcome and support those who may not have it as well as we do. But, more than anything, we must remember that God want's everyone in His kingdom. Why do we think that excludes those we don't like?