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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Homegrown Slander

     I just watched yet another video talking about how screwy the modern church is. This time it was "dress code," that the church has made what you wear the most important thing, as if Jesus cares about that most of all. Another was about a drunk who came to church smelling of alcohol and was scorned, saying he felt more welcome at the bar. And then there's the tale of the homeless guy who sits in the back unspoken-to and turns out to be the new pastor. (There is no "Jeremiah Steepek." The story is a distortion of a 1970 experiment recording reactions of seminary students to a homeless-looking guy. Snopes found one real pastor who lay down on the church lawn. A good 20 people offered to help him. Check it out. http://www.snopes.com/glurge/homelesspastor.asp )
     I don't believe these stories, and I hope you won't believe them either, unless there is documentation-- names, dates, location. Otherwise it's just slander. Well-meaning slander, I suppose, but slander nevertheless, on the same side as "...the hatred painstakingly indulged in and lovingly cultivated by the movie Kingsman in a way that I have never seen before from Hollywood." http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/414149/god-hatred-hollywood-and-government-discrimination-maggie-gallagher  
     As far as I can tell, these lousy, hateful churches exist mainly in the imaginations of the prejudiced and in the quiverings of church people who fear the scorn of the prejudiced. Maybe they invent and share such stories so as to say, "I'm not like that." Throw it in with all the "I'm a Christian, but I'm not _____." (Fill in the blank: racist, sexist, homophobic, uncool.) 
     A contractor who attended our church picked up a day-laborer, a Hispanic guy from Texas who was in Orlando to make some money in landscaping. The boss invited him to church, and he came in the same clothes he worked in because that was all he had. We gave him an outfit or two. He came to many services and events and finally asked to be baptized. The pastor did the usual interview and baptized him without hesitation. Pretty sure he felt welcome. 
     A transient was living in woods nearby and started walking early to make it to church. He quickly became a fixture in adult Sunday school, Bible study and Sunday services. People shook his hand and joked around with him as we do with just about everyone. We helped him with shelter and food. Pretty sure he felt welcome. 
     Scruffy beards and salon do's, Hawaiian shirts and custom suits, bikes and Beemers, all sit side-by-side at church. My experience for years has been that all sinners are welcome to come to Christ for redemption and to become part of the company. If your church sneers, talk to the pastor and the elders. Ask why. (You know, handle it the way Christians are supposed to.) But if they don't sneer, don't make up stories to post on Facebook. Truth fits much better with the gospel.
     
     
     
        

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