Jesus spent his life knocking down any and all barriers in order to bring into his community all manner of people as equals to be loved.
And Jesus did this to save each person and all the world from their lesser way of being.
This teaching and practice of Jesus was followed by the early church. We can see this in New Testament writings.
For example, at Acts 10:28, Peter - and by extension all Christians - are commanded by God to call no one profane or unclean (Acts 10:28).
We are further commanded that "those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also." (1 John 4:21).
In short, according to the Bible it is impossible for Christians to love God unless we love others. (1 John 4:20). If that is true, and a part of the early church's purpose, why would we as church now not welcome, love and honor all too, just as they are?
And by "all" I mean all. This includes accepting equally into and a part of the community: folks from other religions, atheists, straights, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning), liberals, conservatives, children, un-baptized, talk show hosts, criminals, Greeks, Jews, slave, free, males and females. You name it, they are in.
That's Jesus' Way.
What would church look like if there was not one barrier? What would it be like if all types of folks gathered with mutual respect to bring more love into the world to help save it and one another?
And by "saved" I do not mean in an afterlife but in the now-ness of life on earth presently and in the future.
I'll bet a great many - maybe even most - American Christians would welcome the chance to welcome all and no longer exclude and be rude to neighbors on Sunday.
Seriously, what if church were the locale or the facilitator - like Jesus was - of a real melting pot for peace? Where to, paraphrase Paul, in Christ there is no longer any difference.
What if in that melting pot we just loved love (by whatever name people are comfortable calling it) and we loved our neighbors too?
Love does not care what we call it, only that we love it and love too, so why should I ... Or you? ... Or church?
What if together the melting pot of all who gather in the name of love took care of the poor, the sick, the stranger and the imprisoned?
And sought justice and loved kindness and were just humble about the Love we love?
And what if we all blessed the peacemakers?
And then we just prayed or mediated about love and justice and peace, and then sang and basked in the glory of the oneness that we are?
I think if we did all that, we'd have what Jesus called the kingdom of heaven breaking in.
The Rev. Scott Elliott is the pastor at Riviera United Church of Christ in Palm Bay. Visit Riviera UCC's website at rivieraucc.org.