When Churches Build Fences

Matthew 9v13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

One morning last week on my way to work I saw something that greatly disturbed me. A few miles from my house a small country church was having a work day. There were several men gathered eager to work on their latest project, with tools in hand and lumber stacked ready to be used to construct a very tall fence.

Of course a church having a construction day is nothing out of the ordinary. Nor is a church building a fence on their property particularly odd. What made this project so disturbing was that it was being built to hide a neighbors home and yard from sight. They were building this fence as close the property lines as they could so as to block out the view of his home.

This particular man is well known around where we live. His yard is full of junk, his grass is several feet high, and his house is for lack of better terms condemnable. He is often seen hitch-hiking and is not afraid to ask you for a little money. From the looks of driving by his home at night it appears he lacks electricity. I have heard people refer to him as the village idiot, which in the light of his obvious mental handicap becomes even more of a disgusting phrase.

This man looks like the very people Christ came to save. He is among the marginalized and abandoned. This fence is more than just an attempt to block out his eye-sore of a yard, whether this church realizes it or not.

As I passed by I could not help to ask myself, “What on God’s green earth are they doing?”. I was a little upset to say the least. I personally do not know if their intent is actually malicious but it is hard for me to see how they could not see the implications of their actions? Regardless of my opinion on the church something much deeper was going on. In the middle of my frustration with the Church I heard something. That all to familiar whisper when Holy Spirit very politely asked me “What on my green earth are you doing?”.

My heart dropped. Here I was so quick to point out the errors in the church while ignoring them in myself. I could have tried to justify myself. I could have responded with how many times I have picked him up or how many times I had given him money. I did not even speak. I could not speak. Nothing I could have said would have been justified. I was doing the very thing I was ready to condemn that church for.

Neglecting the “least of these”.

How have we gotten to the point that we would rather build a fence so we do not have to see the needs of the very people in our backyards? Does turning a blind eye really make our worship services more palatable? Oceans of books could be written on this subject so I am not going to make this post any longer than it has to be.

I am wrestling with this today. I am wrestling with the way of Christ and how I so rarely look like him.

Beloved we have to do better!

Pray for this church to be the love of Christ to this man.

Pray for this man to come to the knowledge of our glorious Savior.

Pray for me as I try and figure out what all of this means for my family and I.

Through whom, to whom, and for whom all things exist.

-Ryan

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