When I started in ministry I was very idealistic and incredibly naïve. I was definitely not ready to see the dirty underbelly of the Church. I had been at my first church for about a year, and God had blessed us with incredible growth. Virtually every week new and unchurched youth were visiting our ministry, and nearly every month new students were accepting Christ. I was absolutely thrilled by what God was doing… until the complaints started rolling in. It started, as all good conflicts must, with carpet. Some of our new students were dragging in mud, and one even spilled a soda on said carpet. A committee was quickly formed to ask the culprits to not return. As time passed, numerous other reasons to disqualify unchurched students from attending were brought to my attention: they came from bad families, they played sports on Sunday, they dressed inappropriately, their parents didn’t give financially, etc. Disqualified, disqualified, disqualified! It was a trying time for me as I saw God repeatedly transforming the lives of students, only to see church members find reasons to disqualify them.
Before Jesus, disqualifying others was something of a pastime. Born in the wrong culture? Disqualified. Have a “defect” such as blindness or leprosy? Disqualified. Not perfectly following all the non-Biblical rules others had made? Disqualified. Disqualified, disqualified, disqualified! This was the order of the day until Christ died to forgive all. Yet, even then, people were confused. Could anybody be saved by God? God made this clear to Peter:
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Acts 10:9-16
God is saying that the age of people deciding who is qualified and disqualified is over. Anyone who is willing to confess Jesus as Lord and confess their sins can be qualified by God. It doesn’t matter who they were or what they had done, what matters is who Jesus is and what He did. Are we still disqualifying those God wants to qualify? Do we choose to love some but not others? Do we share the gospel with some, while keeping it from others? Do we hope some people attend our church, while secretly hoping others stay far away? Are we still screaming: disqualified, disqualified, disqualified! Let’s start sharing the love and gospel of God with everyone, and leave the convicting, forgiving, transforming, and qualifying to the only one with the power to do any of those things: God almighty.