Wasn’t Church great when it was an exclusive club of people just like us; people who had no problems, people who behaved themselves, people who didn’t disagree, who only ever did what we all agreed we saw the Father doing, who understood everything there was to understand about the faith, who were careful to only allow in those who passed all our tests of intellect and understanding? Does this sound like your Church? Does this sound like anything in your heart or mind? Do you long for the days of purity? Do you wish that the people with alcohol problems, or body odour problems, or drug problems, or relational problems would leave your Church and not come back? Do you wish that we could all talk in an erudite fashion about mono-theistic religion and orate with panache on why we’ve found the answer to the question of the Trinity?
If yes, then you must have a different vision of Church, life, and hope than me. Perhaps yours is the right one (I’m usually wrong). I pretty strongly agree, though, with the disciples here, who at the end of a fierce debate about the entry requirements for Gentiles in to the faith (which is carried out for very legitimate reasons of tradition and practice) it is decided to not make it difficult for the Gentiles to enter. It’s a good job for us that this decision was taken. Especially for those of us who are men.
We’re not in the journey of faith to build an exclusive, elitist social club full of educated, well-to-do people. The disciples were far from this themselves. They got in to trouble in passages like today’s because they wanted to honour God, and their vision of what it was to honour God was being forcibly enlarged, almost by the minute. Is our vision of what it is to honour God open to the same enlargement? Personally I crave a Church where the only entry qualification is an interest in building a relationship with Jesus, going on with Him, and getting to know some of His people. I really do believe all the rest will follow, and that it isn’t ours to worry about.
I know, I’m naive.