Ok, this morning Jesus actually says something that disturbs me a little. He is sending out the 12 in Matthew 10 and gives them very specific instructions on how to go about their new mission. He says, "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel."
After writing what I did yesterday, I have to say that I have problems with this. I knew it was there, and I knew that he had said it. I understand the mission of the early church, I think, from my crash course in Church History in seminary. Still, I have a problem with instructions from Jesus that are exclusive to anyone who might be seeking repentence. Later on, he did instruct the disciples to go "into all the world" but here, it is a very exclusive mission. What do we do with that? The fear that I have is that it will give credence to those who say some should not be welcomed in the church, which is what I wrote about yesterday.
It ties in, loosely mind you, with the reading from 1 Chronicles 9 this morning. After the exile was over, and folks began trickling back into their homeland, a group of priests were set up as gatekeepers. They were in charge of guarding the thresholds of the Tent, but it doesn't say anything about who or what they were guarding it from. The image from Ghostbusters keeps coming to mind where Sigourney Weaver's character Dana is possessed by Zuul, the Gatekeeper. Cheesy, I know, but that was where my mind went.
It makes me wonder about those who have appointed themselves gatekeepers at the thresholds of our sanctuaries. Two friends of mine, just this week, have made comments about that. One is dealing with the gatekeepers in her church who feel that women should have no role in ministry. Good thing they haven't read the farewell discourse in Romans, that would shoot that theory. The other feels that she is not welcome in some places of worship because of things in her past. My heart breaks for both of them, and I think that is why I am so passionate about this.
Maybe, and I'm just thinking out loud here, part of my role as shepherd is to hush those who claim to be gatekeepers. I know that Jesus said, at first, to go only to the lost sheep of Israel, but to me, the Great Commission speaks louder. The "all the world" that he speaks of there, for me, means just that, regardless of gender, social status, ethnic background, giving potential, clothing, or even things in our past. The problem then becomes, how do we let the world know that there are no gatekeepers at our places of worship, and what do we do with those gatekeepers that are already there?
I think it boils down to the basic mission of the church: go into all the world and make disciples. Maybe it's really time to take what we do to the streets. I've begun to do that with this blog. It goes out to potentially 800 people a day, and for that I'm very thankful. Maybe, somewhere among those 800, someone who has not felt welcomed before will decide to give God another try. As for the gatekeepers I encounter in my ministry, I'm learning how to deal with them and it doesn't include crossing the energy streams from out proton packs, but I think it might be just as effective.