As I received the care I did, I felt so welcomed. The staff were extraordinarily patient with me and so friendly. In spite of my needs, they were non-judgemental and supportive of me. They were anxious to be helpful and even though I was only there briefly, they repeatedly told me how they wanted me to be well, down to a note on a white board in front of my bed that said, "we want you to get well." For that 24 hours, I was separated from the world, the larger society, but the plan was only to make me well and send me out again at my physical best. Overall, they were all about meeting my needs as their patient and nothing seemed to be too much trouble.
Now I am not one who has spent much time in the hospital, but I honestly, really didnt want to leave. A woman from food services had come by to tell me about her home made beef stew and biscuits for dinner which sounded fabulous and when I was told I would be released after lunch I was actually a little disappointed. I will also tell you I was surprised at my feelings. Who would be disappointed about being released from the hospital? I seriously wanted to stay a little longer to have the stew and because everyone was so nice.
Jesus in confronting the Pharisees in Mark 2:17 said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners." I don't think I would be taking this metaphor too far in asking, "What if the church were like my hospital experience?" What if people who are sick with sin would be welcomed as I was. What if people who were sick from the experience of negative social treatment were welcomed as I was. It should be a place where people go and feel the kinds of things I felt.
At the event I was attending, there were people I know, who have walked away from their faith. They are sick in a way, and both don't know it and perhaps havent felt the healing atmosphere I felt at the hospital, at a church. That they would walk away is not a wise decision on their part. If only the church could be as irrestible as my care givers.
Seriously, I was a man in the hospital who had his emergency addressed. I was on my way back to health but didn't want to leave those who were the agents of my healing. God bless my care givers at the hospital! But God help his church to bless people as I was blessed, within the confines of his church. God teach us how to be like that.