You Can Sit With Us
A couple of years ago, I got into an intense theological fight with my closest friend. We are both Jesus girls with big bleeding hearts, and though we have a lot in common, we don’t share exactly the same passions and callings (which is perfectly okay!). We were discussing helping and serving others, but the conversation shifted when we started drawing lines between fellow believers and those outside the church. My friend mentioned that she thought it was more important to take care of other Christians than it was to take care of others outside the church, and that the church should be our priority. I totally disagreed with her, saying that those without Jesus to rely on needed our help more. I imagine Jesus looking in on our disagreement and facepalming. Here we were, arguing over how best to love others – instead of just doing it, just loving whomever was in reach as often as we could and in whatever ways we were able. We eventually realized that it’s okay for us to have different passions in this area – my calling might be to reach beyond the walls of the church to those who are suffering and introduce them to my friend Jesus, and my friend’s calling might be to build up the church from the inside so that we will have a healthy home to bring those hurting ones into. Both are needed, both are important. Neither is greater than the other. Both the believer and the unbeliever are precious to Jesus. He still leaves 99 to find the one, but the 99 are still just as important to Him. And as someone who has been both the 99 and the one, I am so grateful.
What if we can even take this a step further? In addition to acknowledging both needs as valid – reaching out to welcome people into Jesus, and making a welcoming place for them to come home to – what if we could blend these actions together? What if the church as a whole began intentionally and radically welcoming those who have historically felt pushed away or marginalized in our society?
Imagine if the global church began to be known for being on the front lines of belonging, kindness, and mercy in our world. I think many of us desire to do this, but if we’re honest, we must acknowledge that the church as an institution has a history of not being terribly welcoming to certain groups of people. I bet you can picture exactly who I mean. What if, instead of being nervous around those folks, we ran straight for them, offering acceptance, unconditional love, and our service in the name of Jesus? I would suggest to you that we would be inching just a little bit closer to our role as His hands and feet.
I think one of the best ways we can grow in this area is to listen to the stories of those who have felt pushed out and unwelcome in the church. This is the reasoning behind the very first series in my new podcast, Everyday Grace with Cattie Price. The first series will be called “You Can Sit with Us,” and it centers on a vision I think Jesus has for the church, that we would be known for INcluding instead of EXcluding, that we would be like the kid in the cafeteria who stands up and gestures to the new kid or the one who feels like he doesn’t belong, shouting “Hey! Over here! You can sit with us!”
It’s a huge passion of mine that we who love Jesus would be about the work of His kingdom, and be a balm and a joy to the world around us – and much of the time, we are. But in some ways, we really have some work left to do. Some people have been hurt so deeply by churches and church people that they don’t want to have anything to do with Jesus, and that means we are getting something wrong here. When we are known for our legalism and our hypocrisy rather than our love to even one person, that is one too many. The church should leak kindness and compassion everywhere she goes, not judgement and shame.
I’m so excited for you to hear the stories of my guests who have agreed to speak with me. I hope you will love them as dearly I do, and learn from them as much as I am. They have all offered constructive, beautiful, hopeful feedback for us, and they believe in us. Each of them believes the church can be a tremendous force for good in a hurting world, even though they have been burned by church people before. That is mindboggling to me. If you only knew some of their stories (hopefully you will soon, if you tune in with us). Imagine if we believe in them, too, and find so much value in them that we genuinely want them in our communities with us. Imagine what we can all do together for the kingdom of God. I have goosebumps.
I hope you’ll join us for the podcast launch on May 21. Keep your eyes peeled for the link to listen, which will be posted here and on my Facebook. If you like, you can subscribe to updates to the right of this post so you don’t miss it. Thanks for being the best readers in the entire world. I’m honored to connect with you and serve you in this new way. Here’s to creating a better world, together.