We can’t do it unless we care. You can’t do it unless you care! In order to build a church that is not about, or for us, you have to care about people, all kinds of people. We have to care about people we like as well as the people we wish we had never met. We have to care because God cares. I know it sounds cliché, but God cared enough that He sent His Son for a world full of people He loved but really couldn’t stand. And when Jesus finished His time on this planet, He sent us out to care just like He did. He sent us out to the people that we like and don’t like; like us and very different from us. And if we care, we have to be committed to building a church that isn’t for us, but for them…a church they’re welcome in and invited to by us.
The Gospels are full of Jesus reaching out and touching the untouchables, creating a way for them to re-enter the relationship circles of the God-followers. He did it when He invited the hated, treasonous tax-collector Matthew to be a disciple. He did it when He touched the untouchable leper. He did it when He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. He did it when He let the prostitute anoint His feet and shed her tears on His feet. He did it when He partied at the home of Zacchaeus. He did it for the woman caught in adultery as He refused to condemn her and directed her on a path leading back to God. He did it when He hung on the Cross and said “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”.
He still wants to do this thru us. Often I think we convince ourselves that the biggest challenge in inviting someone to church or to consider getting to know Jesus is being bold enough. The reality might be that the biggest challenge is caring enough. We care, but not quite enough to put off doing the dinner dishes and walk across the street to invite a neighbor’s family to VBS or a Sunday service. Building the church we really long for means caring enough to not make it about us and to make it about others.