My social media feed has been full of posts that begin with, Our/My house is a safe place. This past week, I also posted a similar message, one I adjusted to fit our personal home. With loneliness, depression, anxiety, and suicide becoming more common, I wondered why we didn’t hear of these mental health issues as I grew up.
The house where I grew up had an open door policy. In fact, the only time I remember the back door being locked is when we were gone for an extended time or when my folks went to bed. Otherwise, it was unlocked and anyone could walk inside. That was the point. Anyone could walk in.
My best friend lived across the street and two doors down from me. She would come in at any time, holler, Hello, and know she was welcome. The same thing for my other two best friends who lived a few miles away. Neighbors knew they would be welcome, my brother’s friends, extended family. All were welcome.
My parents’ home was often filled with rambunctiousness and chaos, but it was also filled with those who knew they were valued and precious to our family. I now live over 500 miles away and my best friends know they can still walk in the back door, even though I am not there.
This is the way God created the Church to be. A place where people are welcomed, encouraged, cherished, and loved. Sadly, men and women have gotten in the way. We have put rules where God said Grace belonged. Churches I have loved dearly have come under fire, and they should, for making the walls of God’s house a place that isn’t safe. That isn’t welcoming.
If God’s Word says that everyone is precious and prized and valued and loved and treasured above all things, but we are blockading the doors, we have blown our mission as His ambassadors. To love everyone, always. To make known that God has called everyone to Him, and continues to call them to Him, everyday.
This is a major reason, I believe, why depression, anxiety, loneliness, and suicide are rising. We forgot that our mission from God is to be a safe place for the hurting, the broken, the lost, and the needy. I think it’s time to live out loud our “safe place” posts, not just in our own home, but in God’s home.
This church is a safe place. You are welcome here. Your past does not matter, who you are, who you love, does not matter. You matter. Your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength; they matter.
Come in. Sit down. Let someone know your name. Cry, wail, scream if you need to. We won’t be surprised. More importantly, God is not surprised.
Let’s get a cup of coffee, go on a walk, find a chair to sit down. Let me listen to your words, let me hear your heart. You are precious to God, therefore, you are precious to me.
You are loved. Allow me to be the hands and feet of God and show you what that love can be like in your life.