Last week I learned about someone that regularly walks by Calvary Church on the way to work. She’s not a member of the congregation and probably has never been inside the building, but she’s seen the message on the stone sign that sits on the corner of North Bentz and West Second Street. One side of the sign reads “All People Welcome Here”. The other side of the sign reads: “All Person Valued Here”. Two simple phrases that communicate a clear message. As I heard it, this particular person that walks by the sign has actually been moved to tears by what she’s read.
In some ways, it seems unnecessary to even post such a message, especially outside a church. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are living out the radical hospitality and grace that Jesus demonstrated to all the people he met in his day, even those that were widely rejected and despised. He showed love to prostitutes and idolaters, tax collectors and Gentiles, Samaritans and Roman occupiers. The message he proclaimed was not only “Love one another” but “Love your enemies” too.
If we are following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we are to practice that same sort of love today. That is what sets Christians apart.
We are to find ways to love not only those that look like us or share our same opinions. We are also called to love persons that are different from us also. We are called to love those with whom we have disagreements and those who practice things which we find difficult to understand or approve. We called to love those who vote differently, look differently, and those with different sexual orientation. That’s what it means to say, “ALL PERSONS VALUED HERE” and “ALL PEOPLE ARE WELCOME.” There is no room for hate and no room for treating some as though they are somehow any less valuable than anyone else.
Of course, this is hard, very hard. That’s the way it often is when we decide to follow Jesus Christ. In answering that call, we discover there is much that is challenging and contrary to our own nature. Fortunately, he promises to be with us. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit gives us encouragement and courage to do what is not easy.
Grace and peace,