The Appearance of Being Christian

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    March 18, 2013

 

I was wearing a basketball hoodie, comfortable sweat pants, and my blue Nike’s, as we ate a leisurely dinner at a semi-fast food restaurant. Towards the end of our “snack” I went back up to the soda machine to get a refill on root beer. Just ahead of me was a young man…probably mid-twenties…wearing a nice suit. Another man around sixty, and also wearing a nice suit, approached him and asked the question, “So, where do you go to church?”

Did I mention that it was about 7:30 on a Sunday night?

The young man responded, “Oh…I’m from out of town, but I go to Glad Tidings Baptist Church in the city I’m from.”

The older gentleman then said, “I go to (couldn’t quite make it out) Church. Just got out of Sunday Night Service.”

I, evidently, did not look like church material. Hoodies and sweat pants give kind of an “unspiritual vibe”.

I wasn’t sure what to think. Was I more ticked off at being unnoticed, or by the fact that someone in a suit on a Sunday night in a hamburger place was assumed to be “churched?” I tried to not be cynical, but as I stared at my root beer the cynicism was rising to the surface faster than the carbonation bubbles.

As I read the Bible it seems that Jesus had issues with people who wore their religion on their sleeve. It seems to be a symptom of contemporary Christianity as well. Sunday night suits in hamburger joints is a calling card for more conservative-minded church-goers. Back in my college days at Judson College wearing a cross around your neck was considered “a sign.” In fact, the bigger the cross around your neck the closer to were seen as being to Jesus. Some of those former college classmates can attribute present back problems to heavy college year crosses. I never wore a cross. My cross to bear was Economics 101.

Some congregations base spiritual maturity according to a number- the number of times you entered the church building that week. Others base the fervor of their commitment to save the lost on the basis of how many stanzas of the closing song were sung before the pastor finally surrendered to the benediction.

Could it be that churches of different flavors are simply trying to outdo one another…like Target trying to attract more customers than Best Buy? Is our appearance of “following Jesus” as hollow as the chocolate Easter bunny many of us will bite into a few days from now?

We seem to be more and more confused by what it means to be a reflection of Christ. Suits and ties, giant cross necklaces, a few well-timed “amens”…different looks seem to be fashion statements.

The reality is that the appearance of being Christian is becoming sketchy. When I read the scripture on Sunday morning there are more smart phones being used to read the Word than the leather-bound kind. In most churches what people wear to church on Sunday morning is very similar to whatever attire they usually wear during the week. Many gatherings of followers of Christ happen away from church buildings in homes and coffee shops. I can rarely go into the Starbucks close to my house on Friday mornings and not find a table of guys in the midst of a Bible study. House churches are growing exponentially. The appearance of being Christian is losing its value and hearing in a world of church scandals, irrelevant congregations, and impoverished third world countries. What people are looking for are those who are being more the reflections of the Jesus who was on his hands and knees washing his disciples feet…the Jesus who was willing to get his cloak…his suit…dirty!

Explore posts in the same categories: Christianity, Community, Faith, Freedom, Grace, Jesus, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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