Years ago a Methodist Minister colleague told me about a group of drop-outs he had befriended and who seemed eager to talk. He got to know them well, and was surprised at how deeply they were searching for what he called ’spiritual satisfaction’. He was even more surprised at how interested they were in what the Bible had to say on just about every subject they raised. They were fascinated by hearing the Christian faith put in language that they could understand. He was not surprised however by their scornful disdain for the church about which they were voluble.He defended his church, saying that they’d got it all wrong.There was no worry in his church about when to stand up, kneel, sit, or which page of mysterious black book they should be on. Nor would anyone dangle a collecting plate in front of their noses. Not in his church.
One Sunday they came en bloc.Two and a half rows of pews they filled. Of course they chatted loudly before the service, and made themselves at home, and seemed to get on all right throughout the service. On the following Wednesday he went out to see them again, and their spokesman said “We aint coming any more to your church – it was just like all the others.” “What do you mean?” said the minister friend. “Didn’t you get something out of the sermon? I honestly thought it was on your wavelength?” “O the sermon was all right, even the funny songs you all sang were square, but OK”. “Well, what was it then?”
“It was those two women sat in front of us.They were all dressed up and as they came in one said to the other ‘O look Margaret, someone’s sitting in our pew.’, and then before you came in they kept glancing round at us and in loud whispers said ‘What’s this lot of rif-raf doing here anyway?’, and they talked about our long hair and dirty clothes. So we aint coming again – didn’t feel at home.”
My Minister friend felt like weeping – so did I – what else can you do when you follow a warm welcoming, accepting Saviour, and are part of a cold, forbidding, self-satisfied church?
And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. Mark 9:42
Let the chilling words of Neitsche spur us to pray: “Jesus of Nazareth is welcome so long as he does not bring with him his leprous bride”.
Lord, if those of us who profess to follow you are so unlike you, it must break your heart. Why does it not break ours?
Now read Galatians Chapter 2.