I had an aunt who was a neat freak. There's no other way to put, and she would agree, if through gritted teeth and tight-lipped smile. I have a memory of visiting her home and my wife-to-be mistakenly walking into the freshly vacuumed family room. My aunt shrieked with panic as my betrothed's socked foot touched down onto the carpet. She froze unsure as to what she had done and slowly reversed her step. The explanation revealed that my aunt had just vacuumed the living room and the vacuum lines in the carpets were perfect, and my soon-to-be bride's footprints would "wreck it all."
Maybe you can identify with this story or perhaps with the relative that had plastic slipcovers over the furniture. In one sense, we want these things to stay looking good and clean as long as possible, but sometimes we forget the purpose of the carpet and the furniture. Carpeting and the couch help create a warm, welcoming and comfortable place for friends and family to gather and connect with one another. It is a place to live life together, not a cover photo for "Lovely Living Room Today."
Sometimes we inadvertently treat the Kingdom of God the same way. With often the best of intentions, we stand guard at the gates making sure that only the clean ones (Holy) get in. We construct a formidable gantlet of pious traditions, rationales, and theologies that often communicates KEEP OUT. Unfortunately, in our effort to defend God's Kingdom, honor, name or word we end up keeping many people out, often the ones who most desperately need to know God, to join Him in the Kingdom living-room, on the heavenly sofa for a long overdue visit.
We don't really get to make the decisions about who gets in and who doesn't. It's not our job. That's up to Jesus, and it seems to me Jesus understands that real life is often messy, and you know what? He's okay with it. Jesus seemed to have no trouble wading into messy humanity because He knew we couldn't clean ourselves up but He can.
The truth is the Father, and His Kingdom don't need to be protected from His children / creation. We often forget that light dispels darkness and that our sin, brokenness and messed up lives cannot possible sully the Kingdom of God! Nothing cleans heals, restores like the perfect love of God - Oh, the blood of Jesus!
The Good News of the God-who-loves is that Jesus meets us just as we are (mess and all) and welcomes us - not in a spirit of plastic couch cover sterility or a manicured carpet but in the Spirit of come to me, all of you who a weary and heavy laden. Come to me, all of you who are burnt out on life and religion, those who are spiritually bankrupt and know it! Come, sit with me and I will give you rest.