Keeping Out the Riffraff
All this talk about people being shunned, disfellowshipped and
excommunicated makes me a little nervous. When did we decide that God had
appointed us as heaven's gatekeepers? It reminds me of the story of the man
who dies and is met at the pearly gates by St. Peter. St. Peter explains
that they have fallen behind on their mansion building and offers to give
the man a tour of heaven while his new home is being completed.
As you might imagine, heaven is an enormous place. It makes Texas look like an ant hill. And as they are roaming around the vast expanse of heaven, St. Peter and the man come to a brick wall 20 feet tall stretching as far as the eye can see. The man says ,"That's interesting. What's on the other side of the wall?". St. Peter says, "See for yourself" and POOF, a ladder appears.
The man climbs the ladder and looks over the wall to see a throng of people singing, praying and holding an ongoing revival meeting. He climbs back down and asks St. Peter, "Who are those people?". St. Peter replies, "That's the Southern Baptist Convention. They don't know there's anybody else up here."
Since I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church, that's the way I heard the story. Feel free to substitute Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses or the religion of your choice. The point is the same. We humans form these little clubs and convince people that we and only we are the true believers. Everybody else is wrong and is doomed. And if you don't follow our rules, we will kick you out of heaven because God appointed us to keep His kingdom pure. Great marketing, lousy theology.
This forum has Christians, Wiccans, a resident rabbi and at least two vampires. Every one of us is a child of the living God who loves all of us. The only reason I ever ban a member is for trying to use this forum to spread spam and malware. So far, I haven't had any complaints about this policy. I do not have the keys to heaven. Neither do any of the other self-appointed gatekeepers. If any religious organization decides you are no longer welcome, consider yourself blessed. If you know anybody who has been shunned or disfellowshipped or whatever, you might tell them about this place.
I named my ministry the Open Gate Ministry because I believe the gates are open to all. There's a reason Yeshua told the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-29. The only time He ever looked somebody in the eye and said, "You're going to heaven" was the thief on the cross beside Him. If you think your judgment is better than His, maybe you should apply for His job.
Good luck with that.