I continue to hear talks about the Christian religion and what it has to offer as well as all the restrictions it seems to impose on those that decide to follow it. I hear Christians tell that God is full of love while I hear the non-believer talk about how if God loved us so much, why did he let that young child suffer? Why does he let war happen? If that is your god I don’t want anything to do with him is often stated. Searching for a way to ask some key questions, a short story came to mind that could set in motion some real questions that the Christian community should really contemplate and attempt to find answers too.
Joe was out late into the evening partying with his friends. He had brought along his guitar and everyone was singing and dancing around the fire having a good time. When the music died down, someone began talking about things that really upset him most and several others joined into the conversation. Before long they were all sitting around the fire getting deeper into this conversation. Later into the evening several of them decided they had to leave, but Joe was still sitting by the fire. Before long he realized he was now all alone leaning against the tree he had used as a chair back. He was setting there contemplating the evenings discussions and decided to finished his drink when sleep overtook him. He suddenly woke-up just as the sun was coming up. Getting up he shook the kinks out, gathered up his things, walked to his car and drove off. Still feeling the effects of the night and still troubled by all the discussion of the night before, he pulled off the road for a few minutes just to pull himself together. Something jolted him out of his thoughts as he could hear faint singing coming from somewhere. He rolled his window down and realized it was coming from across the street. Looking over he could see the doors of a local church were open, the same church he had driven by his whole life, and the music seemed to be inviting him in. After a little time mulling over all that was talked about the evening before, his curiosity and love for music took over and he decided to get a little closer. Opening the car door he walked across the street, walked up the first tier of concrete steps leading into the church and sat down. After some time had passed, the music stopped which he had enjoyed and the pastor started to speak. He thought he was talking about love and kindness to one another. Joe struggled to hear what was being said so he got up, walk inside and slid into the back role of seats where he was able to sit quietly by himself and just listen.
As the pastor of this church continue his teaching, he felt the discussions of the prior evening coming to the surface of his thoughts. He began to feel uneasy and felt that the pastor was talking directly to him. After some time had passed, he also begin to notice that some of the people in the church had taken notice of him. He was still wearing the clothes he had partied in all night and probably smelled a little like the beer he had drunk. While it did not bother him, it appeared to him that it bothered others around him. More heads begin to turn and people began to take notice that there was a local boy in the church who was not a regular. In fact this was the first time they had seen him there. He could see their heads turning and the looks and the whispers that started to flow from one person to another. He recognized that one of the people in the church was an old friend he had went to school with. At that point he had lost his connection to the pastors message and just before the pastor finished speaking he decided to just slip out the door and make his get away.
It was a small town and most everyone knew everyone else. Those that went to church knew most of those who did not. After the pastor finished his teaching, he offered a time for anyone who heard what he was speaking about and felt that they should come forward and confess that they had not been showing compassion for those in need, he would love to pray for them. After some time of waiting and no one making a move, the music stopped and the church service was closed. As the people were leaving they were talking and laughing.
What the people didn’t realize was that the young man who came in was still sitting in his car across the street. Now Joe was wondering what it was that they could be so happy about. After all, he heard what the sermon was about, he knew how he and his friends felt about this Christian religion thing and how they had just made him feel; that he didn’t belong, that he was not really wanted, that he was disrupting their service. Maybe that is why they were happy – he left.
Joe recalled the topics the gang had talked about the evening before and how many religious people feel that they are better than others. How so many religion have all those rules and regulations. What makes them any better than us was what one of the party goers stated! Another offered up the comment that there are so many religions and none of them have the same beliefs, so what is one to believe in anyway? Which one is the real deal if there really is one? Another stated that while some might show some love for those in need, others just act like they are better. If you don’t believe in what I believe – you are not welcome in my world. Another stated that she once went to a church with a friend and when the pastor asked where she regularly attended and she answered she didn’t, he just started talking to the next person in line. She felt she was not welcome. At one point while they were all sitting around the fire they raised their drink and toasted that they would never be part of any religious organization.
To be continued . . . .
– What went wrong? Were the people of the church just happy people? Were the looks and side whispers only in acknowledgment that some one new had joined them and that they were happy to see Joe? Were they ready to welcome Joe if he had stayed to the end of the service? What was his old friend thinking when she first saw Joe and then he was gone? Was she looking for him after the service had ended? Was Joe just over sensitive?
– What went wrong? Were the people of this church not wanting their service disrupted? That if anyone one was coming to their church they should clean up and show a little respect? Were the people of the church thinking only about themselves and what they expected? Did they look down their nose because they could see and possible smell the party clothes he was still wearing? Was Joe correct in his feelings about the people of the church?
– Were the rules of the church written by man or by God? What had driven this church to become locked in on how everyone should act, believe, and present themselves? Or did they truly have open arms for anyone and everyone? Was Joe a welcomed person or a rejected person?