“Jesus said heaven is a place for people of all nations. So if you don’t like Clarkston, you won’t like heaven.”
– THE REV. PHIL KITCHIN, Clarkston International Bible Church in Georgia.
Here is a short quiz, with questions that will help us test our readiness for living in the Kingdom!
- Do you fight against minorities or immigrants who want to move into your neighborhood?
- Are you disgusted by TV coverage of the behavior of flood and disaster victims, homeless and huddled in sports stadiums or relief centers?
- Are you repulsed by folks in your stores and malls who speak different languages or wear ethnic clothing?
- Is your first impulse to look for an usher, when you see an addict, mental patient, or ex-offender in your church?
- Do you tithe to your church, but refuse to give directly to a needy person until you’re sure they’re “worthy” or “truly needy”?
- Do your friends and acquaintances all look, dress, and act like you?
- Are you annoyed with the worship styles, music choices, speech patterns, and behavior of those you see as “different from” yourself?
- Have you walked out of worship because the worship style, music choices, or participants annoyed you?
- Do you insist on being “honored” for every act of mercy, charity, or service you perform?
- Do you spend as much time telling everyone about your acts of kindness as you spend doing them?
- Do you crave the congregation’s and pastor’s approval and appreciation?
- Have you planned, plotted, and connived to get a “position of authority” in your church?
- Do you find it difficult to offer an immigrant or stranger in your church or neighborhood anything more than a grudging “hello”?
If you’ve answered “no” to these questions, congratulations! There’s plenty of loving room in your heart for the rest of us!
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to repent friend. God’s got issues with your hateful heart.
And then he taught them, quoting this text: My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations. (Mark 11:17a)
He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people:
“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man.
The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'”
Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (Luke 18:9-14)