The Miami Herald reported on June 29, 2016 that a local animal shelter was seeking donations in the amount of $5,000.00.
The money was to help pay for damages incurred by one of its residents. Evidently a six-month-old kitten was quite skilled at turning on faucets. Sometime over the weekend this troublesome fur ball turned on the water faucet. 17 hours passed before it was discovered. Animal shelter workers returned Monday morning to a disaster. When they arrived water was running out of the back door of the building. When they entered, they found that the wooden cabinets had buckled and warped and the floor tiles were peeling – all from the water damage.
Yet despite the damage and the labor-intensive clean up, the animal shelter staff refused to release the cat’s name to the press. I’m not kidding. They did so, not just as a matter of privacy but also to protect the cat’s reputation. However, when a couple decided to adopt the cat a few days later, the shelter workers were thoughtful enough to give them a “flood warning” along with it.
I’m sure the animal shelter volunteers and employees put up with a lot of grief to care for its critters. Nasty clean ups, bites, and scratches all come with the job. And then there is the occasional flood. But the workers take it all in stride. Why? For the love of animals? Yes. But they also exercise great patience because they see the hassles as occupational hazards which come with the job: that of caring for abused, neglected, and traumatized pets. They come to work prepared to give, rather than receive.
Leaders and workers in our churches need to come to worship with the same attitude. They need to come with the mindset, “I’m here to bless rather than to be blessed.” For the people who fill the pews do not come to church because they’ve been good boys and girls and now they’re worthy to sit in a pew. Far from it. The church is Christ’s hospital. It’s Christ’s shelter for sinners, where broken people come to be loved, healed, nurtured, and fed.
And that’s a perfectly appropriate reason to come to church. Jesus once described Himself as a physician whose target audience is the sick and broken rather than the healthy. “For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance,” (Matthew 9:12-13, NKJV). Therefore, it should not surprise us that worshipers come with their issues, problems, and emotional baggage. They are hurting and need God’s grace. If animal shelter workers display such kindness and patience to troublesome pets, shouldn’t we display the love of Christ to troublesome people?
Add to this that none of us is trouble-free. We are all riddled with weaknesses and problems. We are all life-long patients in Christ’s hospital. When Jesus came to earth He described the people of God as “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” (Matthew 10:6; 15:24, NKJV). Indeed, Isaiah the prophet proclaimed, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way,” (Isaiah 53:6, NKJV). Kindness was shown to us and we need to show it to others. Please keep this in mind the next time a “brother or sister” offends you. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you,” (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV).
Jesus once described Himself as a physician whose target audience is the sick and broken rather than the healthy
Dear Father in heaven, into Your loving and capable hands I commit myself – with all my issues and problems. I trust in Your unconditional and unfailing love to forgive me and to heal me. And, as I have been forgiven and accepted by You, help me to forgive and accept others. Amen