At Women of Faith some of the stories that were shared included: financial addiction, lying, overeating to fill the void, throwing up food to try find control, being perfect to gain love and acceptance, being broken from death of a loved one, breaking all of the rules, numbness, scrapbook addiction, rape and so much more. The point of sharing all of the hurt and history: everyone is loved and is a child of God.
What does that mean exactly? I mean are Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney actually children of God and loved dearly by the God of love? YES! As are all of the other Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists and Non-Voters. Huh, go figure.
Let’s take it to a different place. What about prostitutes and prudes? Clearly, these are not people who value sexuality, either exchanging it for money or not using it at all. Does our God who created sexuality and our drive to love really love those who do not value His gift? ABSOLUTELY! As does He love sexual addicts, sexual abuse victims, those who love sex and those who hate it, heterosexuals, homosexuals, people who are virgins on their wedding night, people who have had hundreds of sexual partners, the faithful, the adulterers, the sexually healthy, even pedophiles. Whoa, I do not get this.
Another grouping? What about classes of people? We love the upper middle class, well educated that help financially support the church. But who does God love? He loves those as well, but also the financially devastated, those in debt, those who write bad checks, those who have more and give often, those who have more and still do not give at all, the homeless, the extreme wealthy, the middle class, those who own homes, those who rent, those who have 2.5 kids and a dog, those who have 7 kids and each child has a different father, but the same mother, even those who expect favors due to their giving. Hummm, this is beyond me.
Yet, there is more. What about race? Who are God’s real chosen people? The Jewish people, Americans, immigrants, illegal immigrants, Nigerians who are former soldiers, Germans who are in denial about the holocaust, Tibetan Monks, Israeli’s, Palestinians, Iraqis, Iranians, Taliban, brown skinned, yellow skinned, red skinned, black skinned, pale skinned. Ugh, how is that possible?
It is possible, because we served to God of love, not the God of simple prejudices and ignorance. He does love us even though we are the people of prejudice and ignorance. We are ALL His children. ALL. Only God knows a person’s heart and heartbreak. God and God alone, can make judgments. We simply do not have the information that is necessary to decide who belongs and is welcome and who is not.
So, what are we commanded to do by the God of Love? Well, it would seem to me that we are commanded to love. And isn’t that asking a bit much of our limited human hearts? It wouldn’t seem so, but it is. Look over the list above and how many could we really accept with open arms and hearts? For me, ain’t no kind of pedophile receiving love from me! Well, isn’t that just hypocritical? Did I mention that God loves hypocrits too? (Cuz if he didn’t I’d be in trouble.)
We are called to model Jesus’ behavior and Jesus did not exclude. He included people who would be the crack addicts, terrorists and wife beaters of our time. But not only did he include them, but the Rabbi’s, the devout and the faithful. We all have a place in God’s Kingdom, no matter who we are, where we are. God knows us, He knows our hearts and unfathomably, he delights in us. He doesn’t even need us to know him, he knows us for all times.
So who is welcome? If God created them, they are welcome in His home, even if it is our church. We are His disciples and they are our brothers and sisters. Even when it seems impossible for us to manage it – God expects us to and rejoices when we welcome ALL of His children.