My parents were pastor’s for over 40 yrs before my dad passed away and they use to tell a story that happened at one of the first churches they pastored, there was one particular member of the congregation who had such a generous heart of sharing and blessing them with food she would bring over something to them all the time, from baked goods to full meals. She was always blessing my parents with food that she had made. The only problem with this situation was that as sweet as this lady was she didn’t know how to cook. In fact my parents told stories of one time, she baked a cake without any sugar in it and as best they could tell, they think she used salt instead.
Apparently, as the story goes, I am told, at that point my parents had to decide to do something that would not only keep them and their intestines safe, but protect this ladies feelings as well. So they came up with a plan that would not offend the sweet lady.or kill them. They decided to name their trash can “Spot” and every time this sweet little lady would bring mom and dad something that they couldn’t eat, they just threw it in the trash can and told the sweet lady “It Just Hit the Spot” the next time they saw her in to acknowledgement of their appreciation for her effort.
So for years at our home you couldn’t say “That just hit the spot” around the dinner table, without everyone bursting into laughter. My parents did this to preserve the sweet little ladies feelings. Some might call this a little white lie, others would say it wasn’t because the trash can now had an affectionate name called the Spot! So whatever you deem it as, it really doesn’t matter because mom and dad have since gone on to meet God and I am pretty sure out of everything they did in life, that did not keep them from heaven.
My parents served in many churches over their years of ministry many times we didn’t stay more than 3 or so years because it seemed every church my parents went to were one of those so called “difficult” churches, especially in their later years of ministry. Mom and dad would go in to the church, take care of the problems that had been left behind and then move on to the next church.
One particular church my parents pastored was a church where the previous pastor had an affair with one of the deacons wives and had spent so much of the churches money that the church could barely pay their bills. I am told that the treasurer of the church couldn’t even stay at home in the evening because local bill collectors would come knocking on his door for the churches bills.
This is the kind of dirt that often times the church doesn’t want to talk about. It is also the kind of dirt and problems that run people away from the church. For some reason the world looks at the church as a place that is for perfect people when Jesus told us in Mark chapter 2:17
Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
For far too long the church has put on this front that we are better than the world. For years the church has had a list of don’ts that is far longer than their list of the do’s. We have looked down on people who aren’t like us instead of being like Jesus and sitting with sinners.
The verse above in Mark 2 follows the story where Jesus is hanging out with well known sinners and the Pharisee or what we would call today,church people, are judging Him in their hearts and He calls them out on it and tells them, in a roundabout way, that I am and the church is for the sick not the healthy. Jesus himself said that He came for the lost.
If the church today is going to be what God has called us to be, we need to realize that living a life for Christ isn’t about doing, doing this or doing that. It is about being! Being the only Jesus in many cases that people will see. Loving people like Jesus loved them. He loved them into His way of life, not criticizing or looking down on others because they weren’t just like Him. We as believers just need to accept the love that has so freely been given to us while we were still a mess and extend that grace to others while they are still in their mess.
When we look down on people because they are different than us, we forget that God also told us in Matthew chapter 7 that the same way we judge others we will be judged. Now that doesn’t mean because we don’t sin like someone else that when judge them that makes it okay. No! It means that with the same severity that we judge others we will be judged.
Rick Warren author of The Purpose Driven Life says “ “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
Christ didn’t compromise His convictions when He sat around and ate with sinners or hung out with prostitutes! So what makes us think we have too.
You know what my mom and dad did as they named the trash can “Spot”, they were being a friend, they were being, instead of doing. They could have scorned this woman and told her they appreciated the effort but wasn’t really interested in her kind of cooking, they could have said they didn’t like her food and shunned her. But they just loved her and she didn’t walk away with her feelings being hurt, but she was made to feel loved and valued.
If my parents had done anything less, it could have wounded this person and she may never of darkened the door of a church again, Is one cake really worth that? Nothing! Absolutely Nothing! Is worth the loss of a soul. Because that one soul can affect generations of others who will not darken the door of the church, if we wound a tender soul. We as Christians can put such a sour taste in someones mouth, we can turn people away from God because we aren’t loving people like Jesus did and still does.
It is God’s call to all of us to love. The bible says Jesus is Love and we are responsible to love everyone and show them Christ’s love. Will your life be that today? When we remember what we have been saved from, then it is a lot easier to love others who aren’t just like us, because one thing is certain. There but for the grace of God goes any of us! Let’s show the grace to others that we have been given by the almighty Creator of the Universe. Because He loves every single one of us and let’s never forget at the foot of the cross it is all level ground!