Monday, February 19, 2007


Have you heard that joke that 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name? I'm starting to get that feeling about Christians when I read news articles like this one, sent to me by my friend Jeff.

Excluding people who don't fit your standards for how they look on the outside? Please. Funny thing is, I wouldn't be allowed in that pediatrician's office because of my tattoos. I just don't get it. How is the way you look on the outside any indication of the kind of person you are? And even if it did, what about any kind of transformation that could happen afterwards?

What about the people who have the look, I'm assuming a nice trim middle-class look that really doesn't mean much is what he is after, and are not "Christian" on the inside? What if he started to exclude people who were materialistic, who had lied at some point, who had stolen something, who had looked with lust upon anything? He would deserve the patients that were left.

Why exclude anyone? Again, I just don't get it. Take a look at history to see where that path has led - excluding people based on their looks or skin color. Please, let's not go there again. Not only is it immoral, it certainly isn't the way of Christ. That person has lost his effectiveness to love a broken world, and has made it that much harder for those of us who want to.

True story: on a Saturday evening I was talking to some graduate friends about Christians who seem to think that if you don't look like a good American then you haven't made it to the top tier of Christianity. (Nothing against America, I love living here, and we have decided to make it our missional home. But God's kingdom knows no man-made boundaries.) The next day, Sunday morning, I was filling in for the preacher at a church outside of town. I met an older man who wasn't too impressed with my looks. During graduate school I decided to grow my hair longer. When I introduced myself to him, instead of saying "Howdy" or some other nice greeting, he just said, "Son, you need to get a haircut." I was a little annoyed, but I was the visiting preacher and so I didn't say anything. Except then he went on to tell me how people with long hair and tattoos need to get cleaned up before they can go to church. "Really," I said.

Here is where it got interesting. He went on to tell me:

People are like cows; some cows are bred better than other cows. Take, for instance, people in these other nations that are always fighting and we Americans are having to come in and fix it.
I was rather stunned at this point. I mentioned that Christ said that we are to love everyone. His response:
I know we are supposed to love everyone spiritually. But I don't think these people can be Christians. They just aren't bred well enough.
I said that it was a good thing that God didn't think that way, and his ancestors were at one time heathens. He said something else, but I excused myself before I really lost it. One of my angrier moments as a preacher. Next week I had a sermon on the Holy Spirit binding everyone together in love - he left early.

I know there are a lot of bigoted people claiming to follow Christ, and maybe some of them are seriously working through their issues much as I do on other things; but to see someone proclaim it so blatantly stunned me. Might as well have a sign on the door saying "No admittance for Christians who don't look like this".

My personal conviction: people like this wouldn't allow Jesus in the door because he would need to clean up his act and hang out with the right people. More "Christians" casting stones.

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