Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Church Should Look Like an Emergency Room

Over the past couple of days I have spent several hours visiting folks in an emergency room (ER) at a local hospital in Savannah.

ERs strike me as leveling places. No matter how much money you have, what your educational level is, what your skin color is, etc., you still have to visit the ER once in a while. While I was visiting, I saw people of all ages, sizes, colors, economic levels, etc.

After looking around for a while, I was struck by the thought that churches should be like ERs. Two ways jumped out at me:

First, ERs serve, as I mentioned above, people of all kinds. Everybody comes to the ER. No one is turned away. The ER is probably one of the most multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-educational places in the country. Everyone gets sick, so everyone needs the ER once in a while. Churches should be this way. Churches ought to be places where people of all backgrounds, colors, ethnicities, occupations, and educations feel welcome. In fact, churches should be the most multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-educational places in the country. Alas, churches continue to be just about the most segregated places in America. This should not be.

Second, ERs don't turn people away. They don't tell people to get their acts together and then come back. ERs take people as they are, with all their pains, and treat them. They do all they can to comfort them and make them feel better. This is how churches should be. Churches ought to welcome everyone and help them no matter what their hurts. Churches can and ought to act as healing places - both physically and spiritually. However, we far too often give off the message (intentionally or not) that people need to "shape up and start living right" before they can enter our lofty doors.

What would we do if Jesus had come to save only certain people? What would we do if Jesus told us to get it together and then He would save us? We would have no hope.

Let us all be part of a people who act like an ER. Let us lead hurting people to the Great Physician.

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