Compatible verses incompatible

My spiritual director suggested that I needed to take up a new hobby.  Yes, I enjoy reading but so much has to do with theology and my job.  I have read every book penned by William Faulkner, except his Requiem to a Nun,  Another  favorite author of mine is Flannery O’Connor, and I have to throw Willa Cather in the mix .  I am fixing to delve into the controversial Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives, and  E.M Forester’s, A man called Maurice was well worth the read.  Matthias (spiritual director’s name), said, “Get off your duff, get outside and begin to do things that you enjoy.  Get out and sweat.”  At one time in life I was an avid bike rider.  I would ride about 15 miles every day and boy did I ever keep my weight down.  After, moving to Greenville, I became fearful to ride on city streets.  Needless to say I gave bike riding up.  There was also a time in my life when I had quite a green thumb.  Was even awarded  the coveted “Yard of the month.” I decided to take up gardening, again.  I love to plant flowers.  I especially love Caladiums , Ferns, Coleous, Vinca, Marigolds, and Hasta.  Marigolds and Vinca will grow just about anywhere although they prefer some sun, while Calsdiums, Hasta, Coleous, and Ferns seem to be partial to the shade.  In our Mississippi Summers you have to water everything, however some plants and flowers require more water than others…  The point that I as am trying to make is that some conditions are incompatible for certain flowers, while others are more compatible.

Jesus talked about farmers, olive trees, weeds and wheat a good bit of the time.  He also threw a fish story in from time to time.  Jesus was basically a storyteller that walked the dusty roads of Palestine telling stories about the kingdom of God.    The problem is that the church is not dealing with mere plants and here is where the rub comes.  When we begin to determine who is compatible for membership and who is not compatible: Are we being true to what it means to be a servant of Christ Jesus? I have never in 20 years of ministry denied anyone or discouraged any person from becoming a member of the church.  I have never asked them about their finances whether or not they planned to get married and if not why so.   I have never asked why they divorced if they were divorced.  I have never asked a person if they voted Democrat or Republican.  I consider these things none of my business.  I have never denied church membership based on rumors that I had heard whispered in the coffee shop or at the back of the church  (I too have been the fodder for rumor mongering and consider gossip to be a despicable sin).   The only questions I have ever asked is,  “Do you have a relationship with God made real through Jesus Christ, and do you make a commitment to be faithful to the church with your time, talents service and gifts.”  I imagine I have allowed a scoundrel or two access to the table.  However, it’s not my table but God’s table.  I also have found that sitting around the table brings understanding and creates opportunities for healing and wholeness.  If God put any requirements about who could come to the table, then none of us would be able to come.    We have a certain image that we want people to conform to before they come to  the table (usually its an image that a lot like ourselves).  This is sad because this way of thinking causes some that want to gather around the table from coming.  We forget that we are not the judge, and God’s the one that does the changing of an individual if any changing needs to be done.  God knows I need to change, but you can’t change me.  Hey, I just walked outside and those plants I put in the ground a couple of weeks ago are doing  just great.  There  growing.  With all this sunshine and dragging the garden hose out every day they should do just fine.  I’m thankful that God has called me to be a part of  God’s church.  Because if  he enforced the incompatible rule, I would be out in the world searching for something which would fill that empty void that only God can fill.  

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