I recently happened upon this welcome message from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community on Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like Blog.
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds. We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too. If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church. We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!
So what do you think? Do you agree?
When we look at the New Testament, Jesus was criticized by the “religious” people for welcoming the tax collectors and sinners (See Mark 2:15-16). Jesus did not welcome people because they had their “act” together. He welcomed them because he loved them.
I thank God he welcomes all of these people, because that means he welcomes me. I am in that lot somewhere. I am glad that we can add people who have bad attitudes, are ungrateful, who pridefully criticize others, and are apathetic to the needs of others. I need Jesus so bad.
Sometimes we get it all wrong. We think that people need to change for Jesus to welcome them. But Jesus does not expect us to change for him. He invites us to come to him as we are and to be changed by him.