Just How Open?

thEarlier this week my son and I spent a couple of days in Madison, Tennessee for his work. On the way back Wednesday I happened to look out of the window and noticed this Red Roof Inn with a green roof. I just had to laugh. Doesn’t a Red Roof Inn with a green roof kinda send the wrong message? I wanted to stop, walk in to the front desk and ask if they knew where I could find the Red Roof Inn? My son wouldn’t stop the car.

Earlier this week we were talking about evangelism and hospitality. My thought (right or wrong) was that hospitality was the wrong word for what we are called to do, and evangelism has been corrupted by all the buttonholers, track leavers, walk-up-behind-you screaming people who think they are the only ones who know what God would have us be about.

Now this leads me to think about another empty phrase the United Methodist Church has spent millions of dollars on getting the world to believe: “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” This phrase is supposed to describe who we are as United Methodists.

Now, I know what it was supposed to be… We know we are not as OPEN as we should be thor even want to be as a church or as individuals. This phrase was to be a self-fulfilling prophecy… where if we say it enough, hear it enough, buy into it enough we will start believing it and acting it out in our daily living. For years that logo was everywhere… even an olympic commercial.

Here is the problem with this prophecy… not enough people really believed it. I remember preaching on this – and I did this often, because I believe it is who we really are. One response to a message on being open was: “Just how open do you mean, preacher?” I knew they meant don’t include those people I don’t approve. My response was “We are to be as open as God is open with us.”

I am really surprised that we no longer hear about this. Does it mean we have given up on being open, we don’t think it will work, or it is not who we are? I pray that we will continue with this thought because this IS who we really are… who we are called to become… and how we are supposed to live. An old college professor said: “Every time you think you have your philosophy of life all settled – all worked out – God comes along and breaks into your circle… because your circle of life is not big enough to include all the people God would include.”

So keep on opening up until you include all the people God would include.

I have published three new books which are listed at the bottom of the header above. I would be very grateful if you would take the time to click on each title and read a sample chapter. The Sayings of Noah is a sermon series I wrote for Lent which came from the sayings my grandson, Noah, made around the time he was four years old. It is a lite Lenten approach. The Daily Moments with Pastor Steve are daily devotionals. And the Grieving Heart is a collection of uplifting funeral homilies I have given over the years. I hope you will enjoy reading these and even more I hope they will help you help others.

Thanks, Steve.

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