‘so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another’ (Romans 12:5 ESV)
At the Conservative Party Conference in October 2002 the then party chairman, Theresa May, said:
‘There’s a lot we need to do in this party of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us – the Nasty Party.’
Particularly she was referring to a lack of concern for the poor and being anti-minorities.
In a parody of Mrs May’s comments I wonder if it could be said of the Christian church:
‘There’s a lot we need to do in this church of ours. Our base is too narrow and so, occasionally, are our sympathies. You know what some people call us – the Nasty Church.’
Our base is too narrow if we don’t recognise that the whole of humanity has been included in the sacrifice of Jesus.
Our sympathies are too narrow if we are not concerned for the poor and vulnerable in society; those who have no voice and are defenceless.
We are a ‘nasty church’ if we place judgment, rules, and regulations above the virtues of mercy, forgiveness and grace.
The way to avoid these pitfalls is simply to be more Christ like as a church.
Jesus knew that when he was to be lifted up on the cross he would draw all people to himself
(John 12:32); He was compassionate towards those who were harassed and helpless
(Matthew 9:36); and He didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery but offered her grace
As a church we are to be welcoming of all people, we are to be a place of refuge, solace, and comfort to those who are hurting, and we are to exist in an atmosphere of grace.
Wouldn’t it great if it was said of the Christian church as a whole, and our local congregation in particular:
‘There’s a lot we are doing in this church of ours. Our base is inclusive, and our sympathies are with all who are hurting as we show the grace of Jesus to everyone. You know what some people call us – the Nice Church.’
Now that’s a church to be a part of!
Father, please help your church to be warm to and embracing of all people, to be concerned and provide care for the marginalised and needy, and to demonstrate your love and grace in our words and deeds. And may this begin with me. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Have a good week being the nice church.