I found myself moving road cones at Chandler. Half the parking lot, including half the entrance, was blocked off for repairs and sealing. But the dry time was up and preschool pick-up was about to begin. So, with permission, I moved all the cones to open our entrance. That is when I noticed the nails. The rope was not tied to the cones or thread threw a hole. Instead the rope was looped around a long nail. Each safety cone was equipped with a tire puncturing defense — added protection for a newly repaired parking lot.
I doubt the paving company considered the nails as anything more than a good way to secure the rope. But in my mind the cones went from marking danger, to dangerous. I nearly ran over a few the wind knocked over and now wondered if my tires were okay…
This past weekend my brother moved into a new house. I joined a group from his church to help and, over the required pizza lunch, they discussed Maywood. Most did not grown up in church and had a bad taste for the idea. At Maywood they found a safe, accepting, and loving place. It didn’t preach Hell fire and damnation, but invited them into a story of love.
The church marks out the path of Christ. It is not a community where anything goes. We follow Jesus. We call people to follow the way of Jesus. To live differently. But how often have we moved from markers of the path, into attack. Rather than safety cones, how often have we nailed the sinner? As though we were the judge.
Everyone knows John 3:16, but in verse seventeen Jesus says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
The role of the church is not to condemn, even while we demonstrate another way to live and call people into that life. Instead we love, because there is no longer need for nails. He has born the punishment to save us… to save them. “For God so loved the world…”