Friday, May 14, 2010

One Of Those

You know what it means when a guy asks you if you are one of those "Once saved, always saved" people? It means they are about to label you a heretic and an idiot, so they can walk away feeling bigger than you. I was in Taco Bell last Wednesday with my students. An old man asked for the guy in charge, actually he asked one of my girl staff members who is above her as if she could not possibly be in charge. I came over and spoke to the guy and he asked me plenty of theological questions and challenged some of the ways that my church does church. He asked if we were one of those liberal churches. It is never a good thing when someone uses the word combo, "One of those." It is never followed with a positive comment. I asked him to describe a liberal church. He said, "One of those that eat in the service and stuff." In that case, we are not a liberal church, but only because there are no food or drinks allowed in the school auditorium. He spoke with a long and drawn out southern accent and for a guy his age, he still carried a certain bravado and confidence. He told me to watch that these kids didn't drag me into the world with them and asked me with pomp in his voice whether these kids were pretty messed up as he noticed how they looked. AHHHHHH! I love it! I love it folks! I love it when it all comes back to how we look. I love it when people ignore the whitewashed tombs comment Jesus made. I love it when people actually think that God prefers a Men's Warehouse suit over a JC Penney one. He would have had a heart attack if he saw what some of us actually wear to church. I love it because it gives me a chance to share with people what the gospel means to me. Not that he wasn't saved, I don't doubt his sincerity. But I love to share the gospel as I know it, even if that story is offensive and doesn't make a lick of sense.

Like when Jesus ate and drank with sinners. They called him a drunkard and a glutton.

When Jesus went to the house of a tax collector. He was a common criminal.

Like when He cast the demons out of that wild man. They asked him in fear to leave the region.

Or when He defended a woman caught in the act. We all know the act. They walked away ashamed, but instead of change, they plotted His death.

The world needs to learn that the Gospel is much bigger than sweat box churches with arm pit stained preachers screaming. (Tongue in cheek because my arm pits sweat like the MGM Grand fountain) The Gospel is accessible.

I used to go to lunch at a local deli when I worked at a factory some time ago. Every day, a local pastor would eat there and keep looking at me. He looked like Fire Marshal Bill to me, so his staring would kinda creep me out. Well one day, he approached me and sat down next to me. I studied body language for a spell for reasons I will not share today. He came at me in dominance. He took the head of the table between me and the door. He shook my hand, turning mine over, exposing my palms so he had the upper hand. He looked at me straight in the eyes without looking away, which in some cultures is aggressive, in others it is sexual. I hope it was just aggression. He looked at me and began his speech about Jesus. I was a believer, willing to die for my faith. I stopped him when he got to "Do you know who Jesus is?" I said yes and explained that I was a believer. He looked at me, then down at my arms that had tattoos covering my epidermis. If he would have read what it said, he would have seen, it was a quote from Ephesians 2. If he read my t-shirt I was wearing, he would have seen that the very same verse was printed on the back of it. He couldn't see past his judgment. He denied I really believed. He wasn't so sure I really understood the Gospel. So I explained it to him. I explained that I believe that Jesus paid for all of the world's sins. That He demands belief. That His Spirit changes us and seals us for the day of redemption, when we are made perfect. I explained that the Good News was that you didn't have to look perfect or never make mistakes to be forgiven, that the work of forgiveness for me was already done. That made me one of those, "Once saved, always saved" types. He looked at me and still did not believe. So I apologized for not looking the way he would expect a Christian to look and walked out the door and back to work.

It made me sad.

I saw this same guy in the mall last weekend wearing a Tapout shirt, which made me laugh until I peed in my heart, which probably would have made the Holy Spirit angry being it was His home if he weren't laughing too.



  1. I know Jesus cringes at what we all do in his name. The way we bind each other and reject his gift and truths while trying to honor him.

    Truly, thank God for forgiveness. And self control. ;)

  2. It's important to remember that Jesus was primarily persecuted by religious people. The religious people took him to the government to have him crucified. The religious people were sure they were right and he was wrong. This doesn't make everything that's religious bad, but we should take it as a lesson. Even the pagans who tortured and burned the Christians of the early church did it for religion's sake. The Christians wouldn't worship all of those interesting gods of theirs, so they were persecuted. I think it's better to love God in Christ religiously than to love religion in the name of Christ.

  3. This is an interesting topic. I was driving down the street yesterday looking at several different denominations of churches, and it made me think how diverse and creative God is. He made us all unique - and we all have a unique way we like to worship, and a unique way of expressing ourselves, verbally, or through fashion (or what have you).

    For example, I don't think it's that Lutheranism is wrong, and Methodism is right (and so on and so forth). It's just what people prefer stylistically. In the same breath, I don't think that wearing slacks and a button down is necessarily right (or wrong), and wearing holey jeans and sporting loads of tattooes is wrong (or right).

    When it comes to how we look on the outside, I think that it can say alot about what's going on with us on the inside. I, for example, wear black - all the time (and have for 20 years). But, I'm a Christian ... so is this weird for a person who claims to want to walk in the light? Why do I do it? Because - I feel blank as a person - I know that without God, there is no point to anything, and this makes me feel like a blank platform upon which God can translate his work.

    I don't think the problem stems from being disrespectful through your attire or presenation, and therefore not being able to have true salvation. I think the problem stems from certain people, who have taken it upon themselves to challenge people in their walk with God, because they've judged them without knowing them; just like you said. Jesus hung out with all types - the "weirdos" if you will ...

    However, does this make having a "too relaxed" attitude to church an okay thing? I don't think so... and I think that's a big problem in the church today - people being lacksadaisical in their approach to church/ God (and that's why some of these judgemental types come out of the woodwork to challenge people - possibly). If we present ourselves in front of the Lord in the best way we can - I think that's the most important thing. Whether it be wearing a suit - or a pair of frehsly laundered jeans that are falling apart at the seams.

    Your example of eating in church strikes a chord with me too. I personally don't like the idea of doing this - because I'm not at church to chill, and hang out - I'm there to praise God and be taught about his Word. Can some people do this with a muffin and a cup of coffee in their hand? Perhaps. But not me - that's not my idea of reverence; it's for the same reason that I wouldn't come in and kick my feet up with a breakfast burrito in a lecture hall at University - because I'd be there to learn, and food would be a distraction for that process.

    I think your attitude to that guy was right on - you handled it with Grace - and hopefully opened up his eyes to a few things.

    My main point is that we're all different - and God made us that way. I'm a real weird one for example because I'm relatively young, but I choose to worship in the "old people's" service (they don't mind me saying so :P), because I prefer hymns, and old style preaching, to modern worship music and the evangelistic style of preaching. So, there I am, every Sunday among a sea of gray hair, wearing all black and singing "Blessed Assurance" - because that's how I best connect to God.

    What that guy needs to remember is that it's not up to us to try and save anyone else. We all stand in front of God alone - and we all need to search ourselves and make sure our heart is right - if anything, instead of challenging people on how they look, that guy should be challenging people on that point (in my humble opinion :P).

  4. It makes me nuts that people who are so open about telling people the gospel are often the same ones who seem to have skipped over large portions of the new testament...although, I was that person at one time, too. Maybe not as annoying, but I did some things I shouldn't have. Gotta chalk it up to immaturity, I guess.

  5. I love this post. LOVE IT!!!

    It is so true and I cannot stand that Christians judge the outward appearance, Do they read the same bible as I do?

    Peed in my heart. Best line ever.

  6. My lady laughed out loud so I had to see what she was reading. Actually ... truth be told I listened to the robot that reads your post ... yep I am that lazy ... I judge you not for your tats, but because you peed in your heart. Shame on you. I can't believe you are one of those.