Just a quick word before we get into the PhotoDevo. Mission trips and other life experiences provide unique opportunities to experience God. The Infinity in Focus Blog enables me to share some of those experiences with you through photo-based devotional thoughts
From time to time on late night TV or in the newspaper, you'll see interesting signs. There is one at a church near me that says, "Need a Lifeguard? Ours Walks on Water."
Here's another one. Obviously, it's at a church.
The sign below is the subject of our PhotoDevo today. It stops me in my tracks every time i see it (well....almost every time).
What kind of place boldly declares that everyone is welcome? Now, before you guess (or judge), let me give you some additional information.
i'll tell you soon enough were i took the picture, but first, i want to tell you where i should have taken it. Can you imagine what kind of world it would be if this sign were posted both outside and inside of every.......Church?
One of the few times i heard my mother tell someone off was when my brother, back in the 80's, came to our conservative church wearing an earring in his ear. One of the very holy and righteous sisters of the church made a comment, not realizing that he was my mother's son. I didn't hear everything that my mom said, but it ended with, "Because that's MY son!" And there you have it. Mom, in her mild mannered way, simultaneously cut the sister off at the knees, preached a sermon and quoted the Bible.
It's easy to say what the church "should" do, but the church is made up of individuals. Funny, how we are quick to make clear what God doesn't like. We can point out sin with lightning speed, and go to great lengths not to align ourselves with evil. We would never want people to think that God actually accepts "those people" or "that behavior".......What about the other side? What about......
What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to. (1John 3:1)
And one reason the world has no idea is because we don't act like family.
We don't look like our Father. We don't love our brothers and sisters. God help us. God help ME. i'm pretty sure John didn't write 1John 3:1 with an attitude, but that definitely isn't prohibiting me from saying it with a little neck movement and a snap of the finger for emphasis.
Truth is, if you claim God as your Father, then i am your sister. Period. (Full stop for my Island friends). We are not to welcome folk because they look like us, believe like us or vote like us (yup, i said it). We are to welcome each other because we are family.
Imagine me walking up to the likes of David Duke or some of those dudes from the angry mob in Charlottesville and saying "hey bro!" But the truth is, i cannot imagine myself doing that and honestly, if i knew a person had such values, i probably would NOT have any desire to interact with them on any level and if I spoke, "bro" would definitely not be my greeting. (sorry, just being honest). It's not just about race though. It's about beliefs and biases, politics and perspectives, gender and transgender. There are so many things that can divide us, but my Daddy is so powerful and Grace-filled, that there is hope for me (and for you).
Okay, back to the sign.
The *Y proudly announces that everybody is welcome and safe.
i work there part-time as a swim instructor and every single time i walk in, i get these paradoxical feelings of safety and annoyance. i work my hardest to embody this philosophy at the Y, and then i leave and go into the real world.
i can't change world or "the church." Honestly, i don't know that i can change MY church. But i can, as an individual, declare by my Daddy's grace and power.
Welcome to my little corner of the world.
You are Safe Here!
Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. (Romans 15:7)
*These thoughts are unapologetically and unashamedly 100% mine and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the leadership, board, staff, volunteers or members of the YMCA