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SGtoDC: Hold that Door

February 15, 2010

I couldn’t get out fast enough. I couldn’t get far enough away. I wanted nothing to do with church. All of those silly rules. Jumping through hoops for some deity that most likely didn’t even exist.

No, I remember the relief I felt when no one bothered my Sunday morning. When no one hassled me about my choices. I remember.

Much has been made in recent years about those who leave the church. Those who turn their backs on the faith of their family. Statistics kept and numbers crunched as it relates to church drop outs.

I understand this. The thinking seems to be that if we can understand why these people leave we can keep it from happening. I understand the logic but is it wise or even true? I know, here we are again with a classic Sicilian choice, one that seems to have a right and wrong answer. If we can only find out why people turn their backs and close this door won’t we be way ahead in the church today? Did someone mention to never get in a land war in Asia?

I have read the books. They are good books and I find them interesting but will the church grow or even be better off if we identify and rectify the problems that we find? Is it even wise to try?

Let’s take a jump back into my past again. My days at the alma mater. People always seem to enjoy the fact a once kicked out of a Christian college kid ends up a Pastor. Anyway, back in the day I worked at the Black-Eyed Pea Restaurant and lived off campus in an apartment with a few friends.

Can I take just a little side trip and say I still love the Black-Eyed Pea Restaurant. I am still so sad that the majority of the locations are in Texas. At times I still go to the site and plug in my zip code on the Location page just to think about making a road trip. Just in case you wondered, 227 miles in Denton. I would start with some cheese and broccoli soup, the very best cheese and broccoli soup, and maybe do some fried mushrooms with honey mustard sauce. I would follow that up with either a chicken fried chicken with Heinz 57 sauce or some what was called Mom’s Meatloaf in my day.

I’m sorry, I’m going to have to go home and eat something, this post will have to wait.

Not that you probably care but I have decided to stick it out and finish the post and THEN go home and get something to eat.

I know, focus. Back in my college days I waited tables at the Black-eyed Pea Restaurant down on Memorial by Quail Springs Mall. Trust me, I saw everything in the book Unchristian first hand. Between there and a Christian college I didn’t need to read about any supposed believers acting in bad ways.

So, I know first hand that what the book says is true because I lived it. I experienced it. I will never forget the Sunday that a large table of Christians came in the restaurant. I’ve got to be honest I was very lost and though I seemed great on the outside very empty and depressed within. I remember the day very well. I can still see the man’s face. If the restaurant existed I could take you to the exact place.

I was enjoying the table. The people were very kind and warm. The Pastor handed me his card and invited me to come to visit his church and while the brand was all wrong for my upbringing, I asked for directions because I seriously wanted to go. Something about the it touched me and I was willing to take that step.

So, you may be wondering how this has anything to do with Unchristian right? Well he gave me his card and they left and the as I approached the ten-top table I noticed my $3.00 tip perched front and center. I can also still remember walking back to the kitchen and throwing his business card in the trash. I can remember telling an older waiter friend. I can remember him telling me about Christians. All of the Unchristian Christian things. I can remember agreeing and saying I would have nothing to do with such a false and fake religion.

You do remember I am a Pastor? I could list some more. I mean I went to a “Christian” university as if you can make a college Christian. I saw it all. The hypocritical treatment by the administration. The concern for how things looked instead of how they were. People telling you to be honest, it will go better, only to watch all those who lied walk away with no consequences.

So, even though I was surrounded by Christians behaving badly, or around some who I could say were behaving badly to support my position, I still gave my life to Jesus Christ.

Which brings me to number five.

Ugly. Think about the church in Corinth. Think anyone would say they were being unchristian? In fact take a look at God’s people in history. Often times they are doing some very “un” stuff. I just tend to find that those who read these books are already trying NOT to be these types of Christians.

Here is the deal. In the end you will never remove every issue that someone has with Christians behaving badly. You will never do enough educating or influencing or anything to keep people who claim the name of Jesus from acting in an unattractive way.

Let’s face it. God sent people into exile to get their attention. He sent prophets to his people to call them out for their “un” ways and they killed them. Jesus ended up on a cross because they wouldn’t listen. Why do we think we are going to change things? Why do we want to spend time getting some group of people to be more attractive when history says it is a lost cause?

Yes, they are behaving in ways that contradict Jesus but guess what, they always have been and yet the church still grew even with Corinth. God’s plan wasn’t thwarted on the Old Testament. Could it be that we are supposed to be lifting Jesus up not trying to knock down every unchristian way in the church today?

I mean I came to Christ because of who HE is and what HE has done. In the end I didn’t not give my life to Christ because of the unchristian behavior that I experienced. I didn’t sit there thinking I might just look into Jesus if they would get their act together. No, I gave my life to Christ because I called on His name. Because I hit bottom.

Let’s just embrace our un-attractive nature. Let’s realize that at times people just use this as an excuse. They have not interest in God or Jesus Christ. Let’s embrace our un-attractiveness.

“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life. Luke 21:12-19

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