Haters in the Church

That young girl in a clingy shirt, a mini-skirt, and a belly button ring? She was saved over the weekend after talking to a believing coworker and didn’t have time to buy a new, modest wardrobe before her first time at church.

The middle-aged man sitting alone, painted with colorful, edgy tattoos and sporting a tough exterior? He’s been sober for three years, since Christ saved his soul at a Saturday night house church meeting. He’s alone because his wife and children are disinterested in the gospel he preaches to them.

The woman who shows up in jeans and a simple top and slides into the back pew right before service? She just lost her job and the only thing she could think about that Sunday morning was joining the people of God in worship. Jeans were the closest article of clothing at hand.

That young man dressed like a drug lord? He answered a nagging conviction with a visit to his local church. It’s his first time and he’s not sure why he’s even there.

How about the gentleman with make up and an array of colorful fabrics gracing the building with an air of fashionable daring? He was told Christians hate gays and wanted to make some squirm.

Often, decked in our Sunday best, we forget that churches exist in a very real, very flawed world. We feel so pristine in our modest dresses and khakis and ties and flats that when someone who doesn’t quite look like us invades our sanctuary, we freeze. We stare from our usual spots in the pews. We scrutinize their appearance. We hope that if we ignore them, they’ll leave us and our churchy clique of churchy people alone.

That’s not Christ.

Remember with me how Christ flabbergasted the Pharisees by “hanging out” with the tax collectors. He pursued the lepers. He noticed the least appealing. He extended grace to the most rebellious.

Note that He never condoned sinful lifestyles and agendas. He never encouraged them in their sin.

But He never shunned them. He welcomed them into his company and preached Himself to them.

Christians, thank the Lord He never glanced at us from across a church building and decided, “She looks annoying/selfish/slutty/dirty/ridiculous — better steer clear.”

No! He sought us out. He washed away our guilt. He gave us new garments. He calls us brothers and sisters. He has promised us life with Him forever and ever.

Not because we walked into that church with pretty clothes, brushed hair, clean teeth, and modest dignity.

Because we were soiled, we were lost, we were that one sheep out of a hundred.

Who are we to withhold the grace He has bestowed upon us from another lost sheep?

Who are we to avoid baby Christians, humans who so desperately want to feel fellowship with Christ’s people and belong?

Who are we to tell Christ, “He/She’s not the one you’re looking for…” or “Of all people, why them?”

Who are we to withhold what we have so graciously experienced in Him?

My challenge to myself and my fellow believers: go extend His grace to someone who resembles your soul before Christ saved it.

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