King Hezekiah didn’t do everything right, but his devotion to the Lord shows how merciful God can be when we just talk to Him honestly. I feel like the modern day church could learn a great lesson or two from King Hezekiah. I’m not sure if it’s just me and my Twitter feed, but I’ve noticed a great shifting in the church today. There are church leaders out there just duking it out from every direction. And I’ve noticed a shifting in my own heart as well. I’ve visited several churches in the past few years, and I just can’t seem to click with any of them. I’ve certainly met some nice people, but I’ve also seen and heard a few things I’m not so sure I fully support. I’ve seen at least two instances of church members getting “kicked out” of church because they messed up. Now, these people didn’t break the law or anything. They weren’t dangers to society or any church member. They just sinned and got caught, and the church said, “That’s embarrassing. Get out.” I mean, that’s not exactly what happened, but it’s a pretty good summary without getting into name-calling and finger-pointing. That’s not what this is about. It’s about my humble opinion then and now that maybe the church could have been a bit more like King Hezekiah: please, Lord, pardon those who decide to follow You. Know what I mean?
And what’s with all this modern-day church snubbism anyway? I used to listen to a pastor who I dearly loved, and honestly, if I didn’t have to listen to the before parts of his sermons, I’d probably still listen to him today. And yes, I know I can fast-forward through them, but it bothers me that this particular message even exists and that the particular church finds it so important that it includes it before every.single.podcast from every.single.pastor. Anyway, the statement explicitly invites people and only people who have been baptized and are members of the church to participate in communion. It also goes further to say that if you’re not a member of the church you shouldn’t rely on the sermons available to replace your “home church.” I kind of get that last one, but at the same time, shouldn’t they be inviting people to listen, rather than implying that the sermons available are only “good” for the members of that particular church? The same goes for communion. And this is the one that really sticks under my crawl, whatever that means. So, what this church is saying, is that if I showed up as a guest at this church, say a friend of mine who was a member invited me or maybe even I found it online and wanted to check it out, and even though I was baptized umpteen years ago and have served as a Christian missionary for nearly 10 years, I could not participate in communion because I am not a member of that particular church. No, sir. That’s not ok. Communion is a celebration of Jesus’ union with THE church, not your church. So, I stopped listening to that podcast. And I’ll keep hoping, along with several others on my Twitter feed, that all our churches start acting like THE church and following King Hezekiah’s example real flippin’ fast because the atmosphere around here is getting thick, folks. Dense and thick and gaggy.
The runners! Let’s not leave today without mentioning the first post office, I mean, the runners! Do you think they ran on their feet or rode camels or horses or donkeys or ostriches? The text says people laughed at them. That made me wonder about both their modes of communication and travel. We’ve read about messengers in the past, so we know it wasn’t unheard of for “runners” to hop from town to town delivering stuff, but it might have been a little less common for “runners” to make announcements and read aloud the actual letters they were delivering. I mean, I know it was the message itself that made people snicker. They probably knew of the Temple but knew nothing OF the Temple. It had been a lot of years since it had been run properly, and the newest generation knew little about it, sort of like this generation with reel-to-reel machines and dark rooms. If I showed either of these things to even my own children, they would snicker and tell me the Internet exists now, ma. That’s the “kids” in Hezekiah’s generation: we’ve got better things to do than go to that old Temple nobody cares about anymore. However, and thankfully, not everyone in every generation acts the same. The runners perked the curiosity of many people in Judah, and people from far and wide went to learn more about what was happening at the Temple. All because of an invite, which resulted in a beautiful reunion coupled with a pardon that propelled a celebration to continue seven days past when it was supposed to end. Now, isn’t that way better than kicking someone out or not letting someone in?
Writing prompt: exclusion vs. inclusion
I’m kind of fired up and angry right now after that last line I wrote. What about you? Write about your experiences of exclusion vs. inclusion when it comes to the church.
“And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.”