One of Matthew's primary themes is the need for followers to make sure that their deeds and words match up. Matthew's Jesus is clear about letting us know that though our works don't get us into Heaven, simply saying words is not enough.
Or, as the magnet on our refrigerator says: Your beliefs don't make you a better person; your behaviour does.
Here at FCC we practice a truly Open Door policy; we say, and we mean, All means All. We welcome anyone to our services - no dress code, no litmus test to take, no written creed to sign. And having said that, I really doubt that there is a church in Rowan County that would say otherwise.
BUT: All means all does not mean that any sort of behaviour goes. For reasons that are unclear to me, some folks think having an Open Door Policy means 'anything goes'. And while our understanding of the Gospel might differ from the way others choose to see it, we are NOT laissez-faire.
We understand the church to represent the body of Christ. Therefore, hate language, ugly or unsafe actions, intolerance, and condenscension are out of place. Fence building, name calling, and stone throwing are out of place. We have "Christian" on our building; that says we take following Christ seriously. And that means we cannot behave any way we might want to. And let me tell you something -- it's HARD to have to include everyone!! We share communion each week with folks who cancel our vote, with folks who come from other places, with folks who dress differently, with folks we might not even consider a peer. BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT CHURCH LOOKS LIKE, and it's not OUR JOB to be door keepers. Trust me when I say we don't need to protect God from anyone. God's shoulders are quite strong enough. And it's HARD to practice kindness and to see Jesus in others and to give up the right to be right all the time. HARD.
But we are not alone in this. We have the Holy Spirit, and God's Word, and each other - and because of that, what we have in common is far greater than what separates us. And the 'each other' grows and grows. And we meet each week around a table; a table where WE are not the hosts, so WE are not in charge of who eats and who doesn't; who's in and who's out. Whatever flows from that table - and it is merciful and mighty - is given by the Word made Flesh, whose beliefs and behaviour are the same. Given to whosoever. To folks we don't know. To folks we don't like. To folks that are wonderful. To Them and to Us. (and I'll tell you a glorious and radical secret: There is no 'them'; there's only 'us')