Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Love Expands

I met a guy named Mark last night who builds bass guitars for a
living. My friend Nate had started a conversation with him and I had
walked up near the beginning of the conversation. Marks a really tall
guy and it turns out quite a musician, but he and Nate were talking
about church and talking about some of their experiences. Mark told
the story about a church that he had been a part of in the inner-city
of Atlanta. The church had placed itself in a really tough area and
had adapted it acceptance of others in order to better relate and
encourage the people in that community. They didn't compromise the
gospel or didn't allow blatant sin to happen, but what they did was
they opened up their doors to the unwanted and accepted them as sinful
people without stopping them at the door because of what they wore or
how they looked.

I got to thinking about this. If God is a God of love then why do
so many churches not accept sinners into their community. Why do we
insist that people first conform and then join us? We'll turn our
backs on people who need God (the sick)and reach out to the people
like us (the well).

I think it has to do with love. Love is expansive not limited.
For example, when I first met Stacy and we got married I knew that I
loved her and my loved seemed to increase the more time that I spent
with her. But when my first son was born, did I have to divide that
love between Stacy and him? No. My love for him grew and grew and I
found out that my love for Stacy also grew for her after she had Wes.
The same happened with each of my children and Stacy. I have never had
to divide my love between them. It always grows.
So the introduction of a new recipient doesn't decrease love
and even over time the amount of love increases. Maybe that has what
has happened to the church, we don't want to share our love with new
people and don't want to grow our community for fear that there will
not be enough love to go around. It's like if we start accepting people
that it will ruin things. But instead what would happen is that as new
people would come in and if we would be willing to love them we would
find that it is easy and that our love would grow for them and grow for
God who birthed the situation because the other thing that I have found
that real love - the honest, unselfish, unending love is love that
always has God in the middle. My wife makes me angry sometimes
(not as often as I make her angry), my daughter has a dirty face sometimes,
my sons get into my tools sometimes but nothing would stop me from
loving them up close. And knowing that God made all of that happen
lets me know that I am loved as well.

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