About a year and a half ago I interned for the Northwest District Office in Tacoma, Washington. It was one of the most amazing expierences; a time of growth and investment by quality men and women of God. During my internship my District Supervisor encouraged me to read two books that shaped his view on ministry,one of these books was “Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness” by Jerry Cook. Recently in one of my classes we were given the opportunity to pick a book to read and blog on; I was more than slightly delighted when I saw that one of the optional books was none other than “Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness” because although I had loved it when I originally had read it, I felt as though I hadn’t been able to fully dwell in and process through the book.
What better way to dwell in a book than to take it on a flight with a pen and begin to process through. To consume the words and allow for God to begin to speak and teach and what He said was, “Arms Wide Open.”
“Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness” was about having ministries and living lives that consisted of having your arms wide open to all because that is how Jesus lived. He loved, accepted and forgave with His Arms Wide Open; He loved, accepted and forgave in death and in life FOR ALL. Jesus’ Arms Wide Open is a place of healing and wholeness, a place where humanity can come and where God makes beautiful things out of chaos and despair. When you learn to live with your Arms Wide Open you are learning to live with and for all, it is a way of life that allows for any and all to come into your life and BE.
This one book is exactly what I want my ministry to be, but more importantly I want my life to be: ARMS WIDE OPEN. When people think back to who I was in my life, how I treated people and more importantly what impact I left on their lives I hope that they say that I lived my life with my Arms Wide Open to ALL. I hope that they say that I loved people with God’s love, that all who I met felt an honest acceptance and that forgiveness permeated my life. I want people to feel at HOME in my presence because I live with Arms Wide Open.
The very first chapter of the book is titled “A Place Where People Are Made Whole.” In this chapter Jerry writes about an instance where he accepted a fallen pastor into his congregation, when a disgruntled leading church official called to inform him that he had opened their doors to “every broken-down pastor with ethical problems” I find what he had to say beautiful:
“Praise the Lord. If they can’t come here, where can they go? Where do we refer them? If people can’t be healed in our congregation, where should we sent them? Someone has to be the end of the line for messed-up humanity. We are not in a popularity contest.“
And the truth is that we are all human, we all experience our own degree of brokeness and messiness, if we stop allowing messy, chaotic, broken people in then no one would be there. Our congregations, our ministries and our lives should be about allowing people in to be healed, to live with our Arms Wide Open so that people experience Jesus’ transforming presence.
So now… what does that mean for you and me today?
How can I be living my life with Arms Wide Open, how can I be a place where people are able to heal right now, today, currently?
Are you living in a place of having your Arms Wide Open or are you feeling the healing that comes out of Open Arms?