- He has tattoos all over his arms and spent a few years in jail.
- He lived a homosexual lifestyle and occasionally was a cross dresser.
- She is bipolar and comes from a broken home.
- She was a cutter and battled bulimia.
- He has been arrested and is still paying for some of his crimes.
- She comes from a non-christian home and grew up in "the hood".
- He used to sell drugs, got kicked out of college, was addicted to porn.
Would you politely welcome them and then go take your seat? Would you hope they don't come back because they make you uncomfortable, don't look right, don't listen to the right music, don't wear the right clothes, or don't think or believe like you?
What would you do if they walked into your church?
Would you welcome them and invite them for lunch? Would you be able to see past their outward appearance or where they've come from?
Would they forever be defined by what they look like or where they've been?
Each of the people I mentioned are people I know. They are real people. They are people whom God has called and who have responded to the gospel. They are anew creation and are in the process of growing more into the image of Christ. If they were to walk into your church and you turned away, you would miss the blessing of getting to know a brother or sister in Christ. You would miss the privilege of getting to know someone who has been transformed. You would miss the lessons you might learn from someone who is different from you. You might miss an opportunity to share what Christ has done in YOUR life.
You would miss so much.
God whispers in people's ears and draws them to Himself. He calls them out from who they are and where they've been. When they turn to Him, He changes them from the inside out. From that moment on He transforms them and their identity is found in Christ.
Humanly speaking their conversion may seem dramatic, but it really isn't any more of a miracle than your conversion. We were all born with a sin nature and in rebellion towards God. We were all lost. All of us. God calls. God draws. A miracle happens...and we respond.
We are really all the same.
Once our hearts have turned towards Christ and we are yielded to Him, we are not defined by what we've done or not done....we are simply defined by who we are in Christ.What would you do if they walked into your church?
If you found that they know Christ, would you embrace them as a brother or sister?
If you found they don't know Christ, would you embrace them as someone who needs the gospel?
Would you embrace them?
Each of the people I mentioned have enriched my life. Every time someone walks into my church, home, or life, who is different than me and I have the privilege of getting to know them, God chips away a little more self righteousness from my calloused heart and fills in the holes with grace. He corrects my vision and helps me to see people more clearly.
He helps me to see them as he sees them.
Embrace them. Love them. Get to know them. Put away what you think others need to look like. Put away what you think others need to be like. Let God change what HE thinks needs to be changed. And celebrate the miracle of conversion!
Celebrate the miracle of their conversion...and yours!
Gina Smith has served along side her husband at a small Christian college, right outside of DC for almost 20 years. She met her husband, Brian, while she was in college and he was in seminary. They married in 1988. After graduating, they served with “Youth for Christ” for 2 years until Brian was offered a job at the college Gina attended. Brian is a faculty member and the dean of students, and Gina is the dean of women. She has a degree in Bible and when she is not spending time with her family or students, she writes for Roomag.com, (in)courage, Time-Warp Wife, The Happy Housewife, The Mom Iniative, MomLife Today and Internet Cafe Devotions. You can visit her at her personal website: www.keepinitreal-gina.com