So I decided to help out. I work a half hour several mornings a week, moving the wood to the first rack. Much more and I might be endangering what little health is left in my eyes due to bending over and lifting. Seasoned wood is fairly light and, in two months, a little at a time—in this case, very little--I have managed to safely move several stacks of wood to the first rack. It also gives me a little outdoor time with the dogs, and a little more exercise than an elliptical machine.
Yet I could have moved much more in the same amount of time if I had not had to be so careful. Real wood from real trees is not perfectly shaped and sized. It has knots, it has stubs from limbs chopped off, and it is often curved at odd angles. When I put a log on the stack, I have to carefully push on it, moving my hand sidewise to see if anything will cause it to shift. The last thing you want is for the whole pile to fall down on you when you take one log off the top. It is almost like putting together a puzzle, finding just the right piece to fit in the spot the last couple of logs made, but because it could be dangerous to be careless, you take the time to do it right.
That’s the way it is when God fits us all into his church. None of us is perfect by any means. None of us will suit everyone’s notion of the ideal Christian. Some of us have knots. Most of us have stubs where we cut off our past sins. Yet God expects us to fit ourselves in, to fit each other in, no matter what we think of each other.
Surely none of us has had a Saul walk into his meetinghouse to “place membership.” This was a man who laid waste the church, entering into every house, and dragging men and women… to prison Acts 8:3. He both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death… gave [his] vote against them, Acts 26:10. He persecuted the church of God, and made havoc of it, Gal 1:13. Maybe you can, but I cannot say I would have easily accepted him if my family were among the tortured and dead. It would have taken a lot of faith, a lot of strength, and a lot of help from others for me to hug the new Christian and welcome him with open arms. It would have taken someone like Barnabas to get me past it. And when he was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus, Acts 9:26,27.
We look at those people who managed to accept a former enemy, and not only accept him, but support him and his work, and for some reason we cannot accept a man because we don’t like his sense of humor? Because we think he is a little rough around the edges? We cannot accept a woman because she doesn’t have our definition of “class?” Because she has an odd belief or two? God expects us to accept one another. He is the one who adds to the church, not we. Maybe we need to carefully fit people in, finding mentors who can help, just as Barnabas helped Saul, but that doesn’t mean we just ignore new Christians because they don’t suit our standards.
Paul told the Roman brethren, May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God, Rom 15:5-7. I think it is strongly implied that if we do not welcome each other, God will not welcome us either.
God is stacking his wood pile, carefully fitting each of us into the places where we belong. We do not have a choice who our spiritual family is. We must learn to ignore things that rub us the wrong way, instead of assuming the Divine role of deciding who can and cannot be our brother. God expects us to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, perhaps for us to even lop off a corner to make another fit. He accepted us that way, and every brother deserves that consideration from us.
I am a companion of all who fear you, and of those who keep your precepts, Psa 119:63.