There is a great deal of conversation at the moment about who is in and who is allowed in. Donald Trump’s determination to build a wall, not just on the Mexican border, but at every possible entry point with higher security and checks, has put many people on edge.
Our conversations as a nation are unsettling people. Malcolm Turnbull is accused of not doing enough and Pauline Hanson is accused of being a racist. The Australian Christian Lobby is accused of being bigots.
I was listening to a Podcast on friendship earlier this week where the guest suggested that the church is meant to be the most inclusive and inviting movement of our world. Sadly, that’s not the experience of many people. Indeed many people have found the church to be exclusive and judgemental.
You would be right, and wrong.
Reality is that we can all be judgemental and exclusive. We also have the right to hold the church to higher account.
I was reading a story of Jesus sharing a meal with some people who were well established in their traditions and rules. He should have felt honoured to be invited in their home.
In the middle of the meal, a woman made her way to the feet of Jesus and started weeping. Her tears wet Jesus’ feet before she wiped his feet with her hair, kissing them and pouring perfume over them. It all sounds very weird, but bear with me.
The host of the meal, incidentally named Simon, took offence. We are told in the story that if only Jesus knew the ’sinful’ woman, he wouldn’t allow this kind of behaviour. Then Jesus asks a question; “Do you see this woman?” There was no answer. Simon hadn’t seen the woman. He had only seen everything she had done wrong. He only saw everything that made her different to him.
We are not our experiences. We are not our mistakes. We are not our preferences. While these elements might shape us, they do not define us. Whatever we might have experienced with the church, I am deeply sorry.
We have not always represented the heart or promises of Jesus well. However, I hope we might be more willing to see one another with more openness than the host in the story above. I hope that we might be able to see one another as people who are loved by God.
Simon Risson, Ministry Team Leader, Horsham Church of Christ on behalf on the Horsham Ministers Association.