Every day at lunch the facility fills up with younger fit professional types and then there are a few guys like me, just wanting to stay fit.
Each day toward the end of the lunch hour work out, a young woman in her late twenties arrives, changes and begins her own work out.
She leads two other woman who work out with her.
I watch her every day though until two days ago I have never spoken to her.
She inspires me to train harder and to keep pushing myself.
Why is this in any way significant?
This young lady has struggled physically all of her life.
Yet there she is, every day.
Two days ago, she was on the floor stretching and I plopped down on the floor in front of her and said, “Hi, I’m John.”
She told me her name, which is actually a nickname.
I told her that out of every one in that gym she inspired me to work harder more than any other.
She said, “Wow. When I come in here, I feel so out of place, everyone is so fit.”
We spoke for another moment and then I went back to my workout and she to hers.
I have a new friend who I will now speak to each day when I see her in the gym.
In a place where people are there to better themselves and to encourage each other, she felt out of place.
Earlier today, I was helping a friend move some furniture.
We talked about a variety of subjects, but our conversations usually settle in on the subject of our mutual faith.
He, having been through some dramatic changes in his life over the past year, spoke of how he had attended church only once in six months.
This is a man who has known nothing but church, having served on a large church staff in leadership for many years.
On Easter Sunday, of all days, he attended a local church in his community, and said he felt so out of place.
Again, a place where people are there to better themselves and to encourage each other, he felt out of place.
There should never be a time, not one single instance, when a person should enter a House of God and feel out of place.
The church, any church, should be a place of safety.
It should be the safest place for anyone to come to.
Churches across the United States state on their marquee, All Are Welcome, except that is not true in many cases.
All are not welcome.
Of different color, of age, of sex, of economic disparity, of style of clothing, the list goes on and on.
I want to be a refuge for hurting people.
I want to be a safe place for anyone to come to.
In fact, I have narrowed the Gospel message down to two words, Love All.
Do I struggle with this myself?
I have trouble loving people who are filled with harsh judgment toward others regardless of their race, creed, sexual orientation and all the other politically correct words.
I used to struggle with hypocrites until I discovered and acknowledged I was one.
Christ loved all.
We are commanded to do the same.
His strongest rebuke came against the judgmental religious leaders of his day.
His response to the less than perfect he came in contact with?
“Go and sin no more.”
We get so worked up about the words “inclusion” and “exclusion”.
Christ never excluded anyone.
That is a pretty good standard and example to follow, or at least attempt.