On the evening of the first Easter the disciples huddled in a closed room and bolted the door to keep out the world. They were so frightened of the people outside they had to use doors and walls to separate themselves from outsiders.
Today our churches still seem afraid of the world. We hide behind our stained-glass windows, choir robes and Sunday School literature and preach about the evils of homosexuality, drugs and pornography.
The message of such behavior is “We are scared of Satan and his world of evil.” We meet to share time with other frightened Christians and have a few hours each week of “holy huddle,” fervently hoping the world will not physically or emotionally intrude.
We say “Our church doors are open. All are invited to worship with us.” We even send out visitation teams to persuade people to come to our church next Sunday. But are our hearts as open as our doors? Are we careful to invite only the “right kind” of people from “correct neighborhoods” to join us in our sanctimonious ceremonies?
If new-comers do not dress correctly or wash frequently do we secretly hope they will search for God somewhere else? The world that many people face every day is dirty, mean and dangerous. Many of the people that live in that world tend to be unkempt and rough, with an unpleasant odor. Do we as long-time members really want them to be a part of our worship.
The addicted and abused, the frightened and confused are not urged to attend the 11:00 Sunday morning, suit and tie, heels and hats, upper room gathering of the faithful. They frighten us. We do not want them to disrupt our services, offend our sensibilities and upset our routine. My goodness, one of them might actually sit in my pew.
Even worse, some of these down-and-outers might require some of our own personal time and assistance. They might become a bodily, practical expression of God’s message “unto the least of one of these.” After all, if we don’t intend to individually go “into all the world” we for sure don’t want the world coming to us!