Open the Doors
I know that there are various opinions about the advertising slogan for the United Methodist Church -- "Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors. The people of the United Methodist Church."
I, for one, like it. Do I think we always live up to it? No, of course not. But I like its ideal. I like the goal that it sets for us. I do think that we have to be careful as we operate as a church under this standard -- it's easy for us to say one thing, and then do another. But, idealistically, I really like it.
We have a worship service at our church on Thursday nights called Common Grounds. As it has developed, it has become a weekly event that ministers to the homeless and marginalized of our downtown area. We feed sometimes over 100 people each Thursday, and we feed their spirits with worship.
The danger in this is that sometimes we take a step back, and we seem to say to ourselves, "Look how great we are doing. We've opened our doors and our minds to those who live on the street." Sometimes I worry that we say it in a way that implies that we have opened our doors so that the Thursday night congregation can have access to God for an hour -- as if we keep him in a box in the social hall, and are inviting people to come and meet him.
Take a look at this verse from Matthew 25:34-40:
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'I think we are prone for forget that God dwells with "the least of these." When we open our doors, our hearts and our minds, we are opening them for God to enter. We could keep our doors and minds locked, and assume that God is with us, when he is really standing on the sidewalk, knocking on the door.
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
We aren't keeping God to ourselves and doling him our in small, rationed bits. It is only when we open our doors, our minds and our hearts that we invite God to enter. Too often we assume just the opposite.