You know what an EGR is, right? That’s a person for whom Extra Grace is Required. Some people are easy to love. With some folks you have to work just a little harder at it. But then there are those for whom, if you’re going to be real about showing them God’s love, you know extra grace is going to be required. That’s an EGR.
I’m convinced God sends us EGR’s. Because they need us. They need someone who will accept them for who they are. They need a place where they can go and find acceptance. They need an atmosphere where they don’t have to pass any kind of test to get into the club. They need a group where, no matter what they say or do they still feel included, welcome.
But I’m even more convinced that God sends us EGR’s because we need them. Our natural, carnal inclination is to be selective. We feel more comfortable if a visitor shows up at church who looks like us. Who talks like us. They fit right in. I talked with a man not long ago (true story) who complained about the high percentage of “trailer park folks” who live in their town. His comment was, “they’re just not our kind of people.” Really? I’m thankful Jesus didn’t reason that way when He was deciding to leave the ecstasy of heaven and take up residence among us? I’m thankful the thought, “they’re just not our kind of people” never crossed His mind.
Will they receive the same enthusiastic embrace if they arrive in a rusty, dusty pickup as if they arrive in a Jaguar? Or a single mom with four noisy kids under five. A young couple, obviously not married, who carry the unmistakable smell of marijuana. A scruffy, unkempt man who looks like he slept under a bridge. For a week. Two provocatively-dressed young women who arrive at eight minutes to twelve.
Did you seek them out? Did you speak to them warmly? Could they sense the genuineness of your welcome? Did you breathe a prayer of thanks that they were here? Did you ask them before they left how you could pray for them in the week ahead? Or if they needed anything? One thing is certain; they needed to be here. This is the place for them to find what they are seeking. Or maybe to find something they didn’t even know they were seeking.
May I offer another impertinent question: Did they come back? As they walked to the parking lot did they look at each other and say, “This is where we belong”? A very wise Teacher once said something about, “This is how everyone can tell – and you can tell – that you are a follower of mine, if you have genuine love for everyone you meet.” Especially the EGR’s.
By Don Jacobsen