While preaching last Sunday, I looked across the audience and scanned the faces. Each one has a story. They are all stories of God’s mercy in the midst of shattered human lives. One by one they experienced God’s power to save and restore them. They are all at different levels in that process of healing and restoration. All are a work in progress, just like me.
But what have I to do with all this? I don’t have any of those flamboyant and popular giftings capable of making one popular. No special oratory skills to be impressive enough to draw crowds. Ultimately all we have done is to provide space and an opportunity for people to connect with God. By creating an environment of love, acceptance, and forgiveness, we make the place suitable for those who are broken and suffering.
So, providing space is much more than providing the physical location where the people meet together to worship. It includes space for them to be accepted. It’s an acceptance of their person-hood. Once we create such an environment where the majority of the people in our church have adopted this perspective, we are on the right track. People with numerous needs will flock to us, because space has been created for them to be accepted.
Now, acceptance is fine, but love is a different story all together. You can simply tolerate people, and that could be misunderstood as acceptance. But you simply can’t fake love. If love is not genuine, it can easily be detected. It’s not love unless it comes from the heart. And when it comes from within, people will certainly know it.
Finally, forgiveness is a must. But it is surely complicated. We accept them and genuinely love them, but how often and how long should we continue to forgive? As people struggle with the complex issues of their lives, lots of rough edges show up on the surface. These rough edges show up as relational problems within the family and among church members. So, how many times and how long must we forgive? Jesus’ answer would be: limitless.
So, these are three important ingredients for creating space: Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness. As more space is created, more people can come close to Jesus.
In what ways have you tried to create space?
Share it in the comments section of this blog.