“Insiders” and “Outsiders”

I read a great bumper sticker today:

“My prayer is that God isn’t too picky!”

I am always disheartened and downright depressed with the ‘strict’ version of God’s salvation… in which anything from cursing to dancing, drinking to divorcing, skepticism, doubt, or being unbaptized, unprofessed, or unchurched can leave a person ‘outside’ God’s grace… or, in other words, ‘in hell’. This strict version says, basically, if you are out of step with the ‘rules of the church’… then you are out of step with God. It’s not true!

Most of the people I know aren’t perfect… and never will be. Most of the people I know don’t have perfect faith… and never will have. In fact, most of the people I know and love are ‘outsiders’: unbaptized, unchurched, skeptical people who are ‘out of step’ with the rules of the church. I’d be mad as hell if I got to heaven… and they weren’t there!

We read, in Acts, about the development of the church. And one of the recurring themes is that those folks who followed the way of Jesus were breaking all of the strict religious rules of the day. Predictably, they were harassed by the religious leaders, and even fought amongst themselves as they tried to open a way for God’s saving grace to reach ALL people. They finally came to the greatest truth the world has ever known (Acts 15 verses 8 & 9):

God, who knows the human heart, testified to them [outsiders] by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as God did to us [followers of Jesus]; and in cleansing their hearts by faith God has made no distinction between them and us.

I am not saying ‘anything goes’ … but I am saying we should ‘be generous’ when it comes to dealing in the grace of God’s saving power. Let’s see one another as ‘friends on the journey’ rather than as ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. In the end it’s not really about church rules… it’s about loving God and loving others.

Scripture records again and again that God welcomes the unwelcomable, saves the lost, and heals the sick. People through the generations have said: “My prayer is that God isn’t too picky”.

That’s my prayer too… is it yours?