Once upon a time, a stranger arrived in town. With directions clutched in his fist, he set off walking toward his hotel. But after a little while, he realized he was lost. The hotel was not where he thought it would be.
He looked around and saw a pretty little white church, steeple and all, on the corner. The sign outside read, “All Are Welcome Here.”
The man climbed the steps, entered the church, and found three members inside. He approached the first church member. “Excuse me, ma’am, I seem to be lost.”
The woman ran away, screaming.
Perplexed, he approached the second member. “Excuse me, sir. I seem to be lost.” Encouraged when the church member didn’t run away, the man continued. “I’m looking for the Right Way Hotel, and according to my directions—”
“Everybody knows,” the church member said, his nose in the air, “that the Right Way Hotel is on the next block.” The church member huffed and stormed away.
Finally, the man approached the third church member, a young man of about twelve. “Excuse me, young man. I seem to be lost. I’m looking for the Right Way Hotel.
”The young man smiled. “I know the way. I’ll walk you there.”
And the two left the church together.
I truly hope nothing like this happens in our churches. I would like to think that even the grouchiest among us would willingly give directions to the physically lost.
But what about the spiritually lost?
How often do we as church members run in fear from those who don’t know Christ?
How often do we attack those who don’t know the truth?
You see it all the time, the fear and vitriol aimed at politicians, celebrities, organizational leaders, and regular folks who don’t know the Lord. They share their beliefs, and we disagree, so we flee or argue or accuse. We hear statements that go against God’s word, and we attack the speaker, as if he ought to know better.
But he is lost. He doesn’t know your Bible, your God, or your Truth. To attack the spiritually lost is no better than to attack the physically lost.
According to Romans 5:10, we were once all enemies of God. Romans 3:23 tells us we have all sinned. Ephesians 2:8 tells us we have been saved by grace.
Merriam-Webster defines grace as: “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”
Unmerited. That means we don’t deserve it. Divine. That means it comes from God.
We were lost, and God granted us grace and saved us. It’s also safe to say that some human granted us grace, too, because somebody told us the truth about Christ. Somebody showed us the way.
So the question is: Why do we flee those who don’t know the truth? Why do we attack sinners for sinning? Why, in short, are we shocked when the lost behave like they’re lost?
Grace. It’s not about tolerating sin. It’s about loving sinners. They are all around you, and if you don’t lead them to the Truth, who will?
This is the first in a series of blog posts addressing the subject of grace. I will post every other Wednesday, so don’t miss the next installment.
~Robin Patchen, Recipient of boundless grace.