I love stories. I always have. There's an emotional connection that happens when you hear a story that you wouldn't experience if the information was told any other way. This is especially true in music. If I were to list my favorite songs, the common denominator between them would be that they tell a story. There's a song I've heard several times on the radio recently that I can't get out of my head. The title of the song is "Six Strong Men" and it tells the story about a man who begins attending church. Being a musician, he is asked to play his guitar along with the church choir during the hymns. One elderly saint, however, criticized his playing saying, "This ain't my kind of music, and this ain't your kind of church." The man leaves to never return, despite the visits of the pastor who tries to smooth things over. The song ends by saying that the man finally came back to church today, but it took six strong men to bring him through the front door.

I saw a church sign the other day with a similar message. It read, "Don't wait for a hearse to bring you to church." Sadly, there are far too many people who keep putting off salvation until it's too late. But what really breaks my heart is the response that we as the church give the ones who actually come through the doors. Sometimes we look at the church as some kind of museum for saints instead of a hospital for sinners. If someone doesn't quite match our version of a saint, then they aren't worthy of worshipping with us. Unfortunately, this is the same mentality that the pharisees had in Christ's day, and Jesus told them, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27). If we were honest with ourselves, we'd realize that we are no better than the person we look down on. Maybe we should stop looking at others and look to Jesus, asking Him to clean out the bones and uncleanness from our lives.

Learning to love others,

Pastor Sutherland

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