Today I rolled myself out of bed going against what my body was saying to do. I put on my tennis shoes and went out for a walk. Being 37 I am more health conscious than I have been in a long time so I am trying to get some exercise in when I can.
I decided that I would walk around our church parking lot doing some laps and enjoying the morning air as I was waking up. Only a few times around, I see a couple of teenagers walk onto our campus and start to hang out near one of our buildings before school. I knew what they were doing. We see a lot of minors coming onto our campus to get out of public view because they need their nicotine fix. We cannot condone minors doing this as it is against the law so we let them know that they are not allowed to smoke on our campus.
As I saw them my heart sank. I knew the conversation that I would be having with them and it was first thing in the morning. I didn’t want to have to confront them but I knew I had to. I asked the Holy Spirit to help me as I didn’t want to come across the wrong way. These are people who Jesus died for just as He did me and I don’t want to be a deterrent to them.
I approached the two young men and proceeded to ask their names and they looked at me as if they knew they were caught. I tried to ease the situation and let them know who I was and I could see their demeanor change and relax. I tried to make small talk and then let them know in a kind manner that they needed to smoke elsewhere. The two young men were polite and I bid them a good day as they did the same to me.
I continued my walk and it go me thinking. My family and I took a short vacation to a town near Tampa Florida just a few weeks ago. Near that community was a church that looked more like a compound than a church. There were walls and gates around it and everything screamed “We are a church but don’t come near us!”. They built a wall to keep people out. I mean, why else would you build a wall right? This was not a bad neighborhood and was out of character for the area. I have been to other countries that have had walls around the churches but it was truly for safety reasons. When protection is truly needed I see the case but really……. we are talking Florida here, not Africa!
Thinking of those two young men and doing what I know I needed to, I can’t help but wonder if a wall was created in their minds telling them that they would not be welcome at church. This obviously was not my intent and I hope it wasn’t taken that way. It got me thinking……I wonder if we are building unnecessary walls to keep others out for the sake of our comfort or any other reason. When walls aren’t present it means that you are willing to let other close and welcome them to where you are. Is the world looking at us and seeing spiritual high fences and locked gates that scream the message “don’t come near here, you are not welcome but we love you in the name of Jesus”?
Jesus didn’t build walls around Him to keep people away. In fact He was more welcoming to people than anyone. Why? Because He came to seek and save the lost. He came for those that were heart sick and needed a spiritual doctor to help them heal. If he closed His door to them then He came for nothing, He died for nothing.
You and I are not called to build walls. Jesus came to tear them down. Let’s follow our Lord and have a demo day. Open the flood gates. The harvest is great and the workers are few. Will you help tear down the walls?