A Walk Through the Door
By DANNY MINTON
You walk through the doors of your congregation on any given Sunday and what do you see? If your congregation mirrors others, you see people. There are short ones, tall ones, old ones, young ones, and those between the groups. A few older men will be wearing suits, and some ladies may even have a hat. Nowadays, we’ll see people in shorts, jeans, t-shirts, sandals, or any of a wide variety of stylish and unstylish clothing. To some, it appears to show disrespect, while to others, it’s felt that it’s the heart that matters, not the outward clothing. So, you walk in the door, and you see people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and dress.
However, hidden in all these shapes, sizes, and colors, we find something else, ordinary people. We should view these people as the people we will see when we walk out the door and into the world. Seated, worshiping God will be people dealing with all sorts of issues in their lives. There will be those who get angry, self-centered men and women, liars, bigots, and those who are quick to criticize. Hidden in the lives of some may be adultery or alcoholism. Then there will be mixed in a few who are self-righteous, know-it-alls, or have an arrogant attitude. Yes, they are right there in the same room we go to worship, maybe sitting next to us or singing loudly from the pew in front. Perhaps even we are like one of them.
The difference between those inside the sanctuary and outside exists because most inside don’t want to be who their hidden world portrays. Most want to be like Jesus; that’s one of the reasons they are sitting on your row or maybe the back pew. None of us have attained being entirely like Jesus. We all have progress that needs undertaking. None of us are any better than the person sitting next to us or across the aisle. We all have faults.
Many times we find ourselves being critical of those in our congregation. We forget that they are people with faults just like us. For some reason, we expect to see everyone being “saintly” each time we gather together. Many people enter worship with a burden of issues that they attempt to handle. They need the love of all those around them and the refreshing words that tell them Jesus can help carry their load. When we criticize them for their dress or what may be happening in their lives, we forget that they need love and encouragement. On the other hand, we should remember that each of us carries our faults that need help.
One of the worst things we can do is to take our complaints about our fellow Christians public. The “church” represents an escape from the world for any and everyone. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB) When we complain publicly about the “church,” we may find the world saying, “Why would I want to be a part of a place like that?”
It takes time to be like Jesus. Different people change at different paces. Even Jesus’ disciples, who walked with him daily for several years, had their faults and had to learn. Two of the most popular evangelists for Jesus had a huge falling out. In Acts 15, we find Peter and Paul arguing over another disciple, John Mark, and his commitment. The argument finally ended in their separating. “And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.” Acts 15:39-40 (NASB)
Sometimes the worst fault may exist in those of us who are quick to criticize others without stopping to view our own lives. Are we expressing kindness, consideration, love, and being Jesus in our hearts, actions, and thinking? “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” James 1:22-24 (NASB)
So, when we walk through the door, the first person that needs to change is me. We should be less concerned about the things that bother us and more concerned about changing the things about us that need changing. How do I treat an unkind person? How do I respond to someone who talks down to me? How do I be Jesus to someone who refuses to be Jesus in return? When we walk through the door, we should see hurting people wanting not to hurt anymore. We should see people like you and me who desperately need Jesus to help them overcome the pains of a broken life.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ