Turning Jesus Away

Anna shot me a worried glance and slowly pulled up a pant leg to reveal tattoos. "I dunno, I mean, I have these and more in other places. Does He...does Jesus want people with tattoos? Somebody told me one time that God doesn't want people as messed up as me."

I fought down the surge of anger and smiled. "You're exactly the person Jesus came to earth to find." Tears filled her eyes when I showed her Jesus' words about her, and that Paul had her beat if she wanted to be the worst sinner ever. She had never known any of this before.
Lacy shook her head in disbelief when we finished our first counseling session. "This is all so new to me. I started going to a church one time with my three kids, and some lady told me I couldn't keep coming back because I've never been married. I was so embarrassed. Since then I've thought God was for other people."
My heart breaks at these stories. Unfortunately, they are not rare. What message has the church been sending these precious human beings, the very ones that Jesus came to find? Who are these church people who dare turn Jesus away at the door?

My favorite part of counseling is when I get to lead these hurting ones into the presence of a God they thought belonged to other people. When they grasp the reality that Jesus knows their names and loves them just like they are, they cannot give their lives to him fast enough. 

And no, the tattoos don't go away. The children still don't have fathers. But wasn't it Jesus who said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick?" (Luke 5:31)

One of the greatest joys in life is watching a pierced, tattooed, single mom with battle scars on her heart slowly transformed by worship. Her complexion actually changes when she eagerly inhales the truth that she matters to God, sin and all. So many people never imagined that God has answers for their broken places. They've just been doing the best they can wandering in the dark.

Most likely the ones who are conveying the message that turns these people away at the church door do not realize what they are doing. They are complacent church people who are so settled in their religiosity and self-righteousness that they believe they are displaying spiritual maturity. It's a dangerous trap, set by Satan himself. They may not say so with words, but sometimes attitudes and actions send the same message: "Until you are like us, you are not welcome here."

Think about your church environment, the comfortable habits, practices, words, and expectations you accept without a thought. Could you be sending the message these ladies heard without realizing it? Are you turning Jesus away at the door?


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