Walls, gates, and kindness

wallSince January 20, much has been said about a wall to be built between the United States and Mexico. There have been threats made against “sanctuary cities,” with Immigration Customs Enforcement gearing up to deport “illegal aliens.”

All of this talk bothers me. Why? Because what is in the world can find its way into the church, the body of Christ. The influence of the world can have a powerful effect on people in the church and change them in ways they can’t even see until it’s too late.

Some years ago, I preached for a church that used to put a ski rope across the entrance to its parking lot. The elders were concerned with large trucks and the potential damage to the lot. I asked the elders how the rope across the parking lot looked to people traveling to or from work each day. I asked what they thought it communicated. One of the elders said, “That we’re not very hospitable.” He was right.

Many churches begin their services by welcoming visitors. Every church I’ve ever worked with did the same because we all were delighted to have people come and worship God with us. We welcomed them because we wanted them to return and be a part of the services again and again. Frankly, I’m concerned that our nation and, in time, the Lord’s church may become inhospitable places.

I cringe when I think people may hear a welcoming announcement from the pulpit that may sound like, “Welcome to the services today. If you’re an illegal immigrant please leave.”

We’re supposed to love everyone who comes into contact with us. A lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” The Lord answered with the story of a man who fell victim to thieves on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem in Luke 10:30ff. The answer to the question was our neighbor is whoever needs our help and can be helped by us.

I keep thinking after remembering the Good Samaritan of how displeased the Lord will be with us if we become haters of those who need the gospel — the very people we are charged to teach in Matthew 28:18-20 — and turn them away from the Lord’s church and back into the sinful world.

I don’t think I can face the Lord at the judgment after supporting a decision to keep the lost away from the gospel. And, that’s no matter where they come from or who they are.