06 March, 2014

I Take It As a Good Thing

Ever have something bother you for hours before you suddenly realized that what was bothering you is actually a good thing? That happened to me today. I had someone just rip into me and tell me that they had left my church (a couple of years ago) because I didn't spend enough time visiting people in our church. I said to this woman that I was really sorry, but that I had always stressed to the church that I was not the type to just show up at peoples homes, but if they needed me, I tried to make my cell phone number available and if they would call me I would be glad to come for a visit. I then told her that I never knew that she wanted me to visit her, and that if I'd known, I'd have come. Her response was telling. She said that she did not really want a visit, but it was someone else who had gotten upset because I did not visit, so they left the church together. Before I could respond to her, she said, "the fact of the matter is that you are always too busy hanging out with the people who never were a part of the church and no one feels like you have time for them.  She told me that a lot of people felt that way and had told her that they left the church for the same reason.

I'll be honest... that bothered me. It bothered me a lot. It bothered me all afternoon and evening. In fact, finally, just within the past hour I began to think about it in a different light. First of all, I do make my cell phone number available to anyone and everyone and if they call, I will either answer or call back just as soon as I possibly can. Secondly, before today, there had only been a couple of times in the 9 years 8 months that I've been here as pastor has there been a person say to me that they were upset because I had not come to visit. Yes, there have been times I simply could not because of other commitments or illness of my own, but those folks have told me that there was no problem and they understood. So if a person just up and left for that reason without ever talking to me about it, the way I see it, there was not much I could do to try to make it better. But even more importantly, it hit me a little while ago that the very thing that was said about me today, they said about Jesus himself. Mark 2:16, " When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: 'Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"  So, I guess I'm in pretty good company then; aren't I?

Thinking about this tonight, I've come to the conclusion that while I'm quite sure there have been some who felt this way over the years, the fact is if they say nothing to me about how they felt, then what did they expect me to do about it? Fact is, while I might have come visit and spent time with them, it would have certainly been much easier all the way around if an invitation had been offered. But all in all, I would not have changed my M.O.  I do try to spend as much time as I can with folks who are not associated with the church. To me, this is what Jesus calls us to do. I don't know what good we do as Christians if we only hang out with other Christians and have no impact on the world around us. To me, that is our mission field.

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