1 Corinthians 12:22-23 “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.”
Every church has at least one.
That one who says something, wears something, or does something that seems so out of place from the rest of the body. We have a man in our church who will stand and salute when he hears a particularly moving truth or song. Some think him odd or eccentric.
God tells us he is necessary.
The treatment of every individual that comes through our doors will reveal the heart of your church. In James, he calls the church into question.
James 2:1 “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”
Often, it is easy to welcome the family that comes modestly dressed, bibles in hand, and following Dad as he leads. What of the single Mom trying to hold it together, carrying a baby and holding two in tow? What of the man who might be sporting tattoos, or dressed in drag?
Our treatment of those who come will tell just how much we love God and desire to obey His commands. James goes on to admonish the churches:
James 2:2-4 “For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”
We all make judgments based upon our first impressions. Whether or not we act on those impressions will determine our Christianity. There are some practical things we must consider.
That one who just came through the door took the time to prepare to enter. That person may have agonized over what to wear because they did not have what they felt was expected. They may have undergone some spiritual warfare to get right with God. It might very well be their last-ditch effort to give God one last chance.
Let me testify of this very truth.
Some years back, a young man came to our church. He slipped into the back after the service had already started. He was wearing a suit jacket with the sleeves pushed up, skinny-tie, and a fedora. As I sat on the platform, I watched him enter and began to pray that God would meet his needs.
Just then, one of our ushers came to him and began to converse, pointing to his hat. I wasn’t clear what transpired, but the young man looked upset and soon exited during the song service. It was then that the Holy Spirit said to go and follow him right away.
I left the platform and quickly exited, asking our security team which way the young man went. I found him in the parking lot, slumped down in his brand new BMW, smoking a cigarette. I introduced myself and asked what made him leave so abruptly.
He relayed the conversation with the usher about removing his hat in service and was so offended that he felt he had to leave. I apologized for the way he was treated and asked what brought him to our church.
He shared that he was a pastor’s son who had been away from God for some time. His heart was burdened to come back, and he felt that God had led him to our church. I told him that what he was doing was an honorable thing. He shared with me that this was his last effort to find out if God was real or not, and the actions of the usher had so offended him that he was going to give up.
I told him that in deciding to come back to God, he was going to receive some opposition from the enemy.
I told him that even some well-meaning usher could be used to deter us from receiving what God had already planned for him, and would he like to come in and hear what God had ready for him? I assured him that I would talk to the usher, and he would not be harassed for his attire any longer.
I also asked if I could pray and ask God to truly reveal himself to this man in such a way that it would conquer all his doubts and fears.
We entered the church, and he took his place on the back row.
At the end of the service, our pastor gave the invitation. I looked back, and this young man was gripping the chair in front of him, weeping. I came and put my arm around his shoulder and asked, “Did God answer our prayer?” He just hugged me and said, “Thank you!”
One day I will hear how his story continued from that day. All I could think is how things could have gone differently had I not listened and obeyed the Holy Spirit.
We may never know this side of Heaven just who it was that we entertained in our church. It may even be that we received an angelic visitor.
Hebrews 13:2 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Sidney Sheldon’s book, “In His Steps,” chronicles the fictional story of one church’s transformation when an old man came to their church needing help. The church took up the slogan, “What Would Jesus Do?” which we know now as “WWJD.”
If God truly tells us that those we might shrink from meeting or accepting into our fellowship are necessary, we must look beyond our pride, preferences, and prejudices to obey the command of God.
When we are sensitive to the Spirit’s leading, we will be used in such a way as to guide a lost sheep back to the fold, or a lost sinner to the cross. I feel that someone was that for me, I must repay the kindness as God leads.
Look beyond the attire and the attitude. See that person as a soul for who Christ died who is seeking and searching for answers.
Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Growing up, I heard an old-time radio program, “The Rest of the Story” by Paul Harvey.
He told stories of lives in turmoil, situations that seemed impossible, or told only as much as would make you wonder just how it would end. Then he revealed one truth, one fact, or one small detail that was the golden thread that tied it all together into a beautiful tale.
Most had a moral to them. All gripped your heart. Some were humorous, while others made you weep. I believe Heaven will be much like that. We will hear the rest of the story as to what our small interaction had in one person’s life and how God used it for good.
May we continue to ask with each interaction, what is it you would have me do?