Churches tend to start with an warm, "Everyone welcome!" As organization develops, it gets a little more restrictive. Membership means looking and acting a certain way. The group becomes identified with a style of worship or a dress code, usually stuck with dated preferences even after the founder moves on. Even most "emerging" churches have their own restrictions and younger, hipper "look" that seems dated within a few years.
Jesus wasn't into a certain mode of travel on his faith journey. He seemed to fit in with everyone. His assurance of pleasing God came from his time away from people, listening to God's voice. He wanted to do the will of his heavenly Father, not crack the secrets of political power or social climbing.
He developed no insider code. No secret formula. No rule upon rule. Nope, Jesus called out "Everyone come!" to his last breath. In fact, dying, he pleaded mercy for the ignorant: "Father forgive them, because they don't know what they're doing."
His disciples affirmed, "To as many as received him, he gave power to become the sons (and daughters) of God, even to those who believed on his name." There's no trick, no culture to crack, and no secret doorway to heaven.
Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life, stands and knocks at the door of our hearts. There's no painting, sanding, or refinishing needed before he comes in.
He won't leave us in our messes though. He changes us from the inside out. It's constant, sometimes demanding, work to conform to his likeness, but we know we're accepted, flaws and all. God's children can never be outsiders in his family. He loves and cares for us as he finds us. Then he transforms us, day by day, with loving attention and discipline.
Let's be like our Father, extending that same "Welcome! C'mon in!" to those searching for God's peace, truth, and forgiveness.
*He has showed you, o man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NIV
*My child, don't reject the LORD's discipline, and don't be upset when he corrects you. For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 NLT
*For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not come into this world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17