gatesI have to admit that I sat and stared at the sign for a minute or two trying to absorb the meaning.  I had just pulled into a place in the church parking lot.  In front of my car was a sign. “No Trespassing.”

I’ve talked to someone, so I get why the sign is there. Teens from a neighboring apartment complex use the congregation’s pavilion as a party place.  The members of the church don’t much care for this so up went the sign.

But it also means that people who park there for church related events are greeted with this sign – get lost, go away, we don’t want you here! – before they even speak to anyone.  It doesn’t send the best possible message.

The sign was in sharp contrast to the night’s Bible study.  We discussed the end times, Revelation, Heaven.  Sure we read the verses about the pit of fire where sinners remain in torment but we also read about gold and jewels and giant pearl gates. But the verse that really surprised us, mainly because we know we’ve read it but none of us remembered it, was this:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them…’” (Revelation 21:3, New Revised Standard Version)

Not people but peoples.  The gates to this new city are always open.  Anyone who repents of their sins can enter.  Are you of the chosen people?  No problem.  Not of the chosen people?  Come on in. All peoples will be God’s.

That’s a pretty amazing message.  Everyone is welcome as long as they are willing to shed their sin. And the sign that you’d find there?

“The gates are open.  Come on in.  You are welcome here.”