Although I have attended church regularly all my life, I’ve spent a fair bit of time with people who do not go to church at all. Being a music major in college exposed me to many of these people, but I also think we need to reach out to those around us.
One of the most common themes when discussing faith and God with these friends is the exclusion and condemnation they feel from those who do attend church. It saddens me that this is the main thing keeping them from coming to church with me — or even from checking out Jesus at all.
There are people out there who need Christians to get out of the way and stop trying to fix them so that they can connect with God and allow Him to work in their lives.
Matthew 19:13-14 illustrates how, even if we have the best intentions, we don’t always get it right:
“Some people brought their children to Jesus, so he could place his hands on them and pray for them. His disciples told the people to stop bothering him. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and don’t try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.’”
By our rigid standards and the rejection that comes from failing to live up to them, we indeed are hindering those who long to find out more about Jesus. The story of Zacchaeus illustrates just how much someone is willing to do to see Jesus, and it also shows how someone like Zacchaeus faces instant judgement. Jesus still spends time with Zacchaeus despite what those around him say.
Jesus acknowledges in Luke 19:10 that “the Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost,” and we should be following this example and seeking out those who are lost and including them in our lives.
Meeting people where they are is what Jesus did, and we should not be afraid to do the same. This means we have to step out of our comfort and routine regularly to be open to those God brings to us and show them love just as they are.
Katie Grobe is the director of the Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center in Craig. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.