“Thank God you spoke to them.”
When an older brother said this I was curious about what he meant. I was there to preach for the first time and tried to shake hands with and speak to people before the services. This brother was very glad that I had welcomed a family wearing old clothes. He said that a former preacher had snubbed them and they had stopped coming. This was not a big city church. It was a rural congregation.
I was talking with a young woman in the medical field recently and found out that she was a member of the church of Christ. The first thing she said was that she liked the congregation she attended because it had a lot of young professionals. “Hmm,” I wondered. Who defines what a professional is? What about a farmer or truck driver? What about a carpenter or mechanic? What about a young mother with little education struggling to get by on minimum wage? And what about older professionals? There are a lot of things I don’t understand about the Bible, but maybe someone can explain to me how success in the world is a gauge of a person’s spiritual level and why educational and career choices should determine where one goes to church. I was not surprised when the young lady told me where she attended. It has been very liberal for years. A church cannot cater to worldly standards and please God. Trying to impress the world will soften the preaching of the gospel and drain the life out of the congregation. It may have money and people, but inside it is dead.
Do you remember when John the Baptist was in prison and sent two of his disciples to Jesus to make sure He was the Messiah? The Lord told them to tell John about the miracles He did like healing the blind and raising the dead. But in that list He also mentioned something else –“the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:5). The Jewish religious leaders didn’t have much use for the poor, but the Savior went to them and taught them.
Do you recall the warning in the book of James about how we treat people?
For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:2-5).
How many churches are guilty of this today? And they wonder why they are not growing.
The beauty of the Lord’s church is its diversity of people–rich and poor, young and old, black and white, educated and uneducated, male and female, single and married, crippled and healthy, people from stable homes and people from broken homes. Elders and preachers can’t cherry pick members and it is wrong to try. We need to get out of our comfort zones and when we do we need to be genuine. It won’t work to tolerate out of pity people who are different from us while inside we think we are better than they are. As long as we all love the Lord and follow His Word, we should respect each other and treat everybody the same.