It is common enough in our times to see a gate and guard shack in front certain neighborhoods, signs reading “private” and “members only” in front of certain golf clubs or beach resorts, and elaborate screening processes required for membership in certain fraternal orders. In our world, some of the most beautiful places are limited in access by one simple word: exclusive.
Not so with God’s kingdom. Jesus’ death became the salvation for all humanity. Redemption through God’s grace is offered freely to all persons. Anyone who receives this news is justified before God, and “reborn”. We are accepted through Christ into a new life and a realm where grace is supplied in full measure to all persons, persons of every age, and station and nation. There is no catch, no condition placed on the entrance to new life in Christ.
There are, however, some house rules once we enter God’s house. The grace which justifies us is only part of the story; we are meant to grow into that grace, becoming sanctified and sharing the likeness of Christ. In the church, accepting all persons is not the same as condoning all behavior. Put another way: by grace we must clothe ourselves in righteousness.