This church is for all who are in prison.
It might be an actual prison. You are by definition a social outcast. But you are not an outcast to me. You are not an outcast to God.
“For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,” says the Lord, “Because they called you an outcast.” [Jer. 30:17 NKJV]
There are all kinds of prisons, my brother and sister. People who dwell in them, in the prison of addiction or abuse or shame or homelessness or fear or, or, or….you don’t go to church. People stare at you. You are pretty sure they do and maybe they do.
You are welcome here!
Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matt. 11:28 NKJV]
HERE definition of an outcast, in case you need one.
A person is an outcast who is rejected or cast out, as from home or society; a homeless wanderer; exile, refugee, expatriate; leper, pariah, vagabond.
Outcasts are people who don’t seem to belong in their main social area (i.e., work, school, the street, church). They have only a few friends but usually don’t really hang out with them. They are told by their betters that they have wisdom beyond their years, but their peers make fun of them for it. They are a little insane, after all, humans are social creatures. But their heart is mature, calm and kind. They never really do anything big for themselves, and most of the things they do are for other people. They are just misunderstood and people hate them for no reason. They are usually the victim of every negative stereotype and rumor. But hey, they don’t have a social life, so it doesn’t matter to them. They hardly have anything to lose.
That’s interesting. We are harnless victims. Of course, some of us take automatic weapons and kill lots of people–they left that part out. Can you see why this time and message are vital to these times.
“Come,” Jesus says. “Come. Receive rest.”
Why would an outcast want a church?
I guess that depends on what you think the purpose of a church is.
When I was in high school church was an extension of high school–where all the people who made my life miserable in high school could gather to continue their torture.
This is not me indulging in oh-poor-me, just stating the facts. And you know how those on the outside often refer to the fact that churches overflow with hypocrites? This church was a classic case. We had a youth leader, who was an associate pastor. He was a pretty decent guy. But when his wife committed suicide during our senior year, they fired him. The scandal. And that was if for me for church for many years. So maybe you can relate.
There are lots of other reasons you might think you would never need a church again.
Maybe you went to a church where you were happy and things changed: the pastor left, the music went all contemporary (or traditional, as the case may be), or maybe some new people came or some old people left. It changed and try as you might, you knew you no longer belonged.
You just want things back the way they were. And things just don’t ever go back and you are not ready to go on.
Maybe you were a pastor and everything was incredibly blessed and Anointed in this place. It was like you had actually found a place where heaven had come down to earth. You were ministering to people and they were receiving it. They would come up to the altar after the service and say things like: “I need to know God is real.” And you would lay hands on them and pray and the Spirit of God would come over them, and the next thing you knew they were lying on the floor smiling up at the ceiling. And you knew that wasn’t you, and there would be people littered all over the floor, grinning away. But then the Pastor who loved everyone came under the influence of a couple that didn’t have his best interests in mind and suddenly you found yourself accused of incredible things and you did everything you could to hold on to what you had but eventually it became clear that holding on would mean selling out and so you had to leave.And your life was destroyed. Or some horrible story like that. Do you realize how many pastors leave the ministry each year? each month? because of horrible, hurtful things that had nothing to do with them but was caused by jealousy and petty church politics.
And so now you are an outcast. You are broken. You need a church because you need God. Believe me when I tell you I feel your tears.
It took me years to bounce back from that betrayal. But you can do it too. Here’s why. The Lord is not through with you.
Or maybe you are just a rude horrible person and you don’t belong anywhere because every time you open your mouth people are offended, even if you are trying to be nice. You spent your life wanting to fit and you doubt that even God would want to have you in His church because His people sure don’t seen to. But He does.
Let’s see if we can make this a church where people can feel like they can be themselves. Don’t be offensive on purpose, unless you can’t help it. We will forgive you and love you and try very hard not to offend you back (although some of us are rude, angry people too), because here we love Jesus.
And He invented love.
And I am his servant.