The Social Club

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming close to him to hear him. The Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, 'This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.' Luke 15:1'2 WEB

I could hardly contain my excitement as we headed to the church. I was zealous for Jesus and for several weeks I had been sharing my faith with a friend at work. He finally agreed to come to church with me, and as far as I know, he had never been to church before. I guess I was young and naive about how snooty people can be when it comes to religion.

My friend and I were both musicians, but where I was clean cut, he actually looked like one. He had really long hair like most rock and roll drummers did in the 80s, as well as a few tattoos, but he was a good hearted guy that would give you the shirt off his back if it would help you.

The church that I attended had been having revival meetings all week and the preacher had brought a solid message about Jesus every night. He spoke on love and mercy, heaven and hell, the works, and followed it with a very effective altar call. I wanted my friend to hear the message about Jesus as distraction free as possible, so I found us seats on the front row and we settled in to listen.

When the preacher walked onto the stage and saw my long-haired friend sitting on the front row, his message suddenly changed from how Jesus came to seek and save the lost, to how shameful it is for a man to have long hair. He yelled his way through the sermon and beat his bible with a red face, while staring directly at us with what appeared to be contempt. It was as if I had brought moist dung to their altar.

As the church filled with shouts of 'Amen Brother! Preach it!' I began to feel sick. I sank lower and lower in my seat as the service went on. My excitement was gradually replaced with disgust. I slowly realized that they only wanted to share the good news of Jesus amongst themselves, and they glared at me for bringing a sinner into their sacred building.

We crawled out of that church in shame, but the shame that I felt was because that I had brought my friend to such a place. I attend a different church today, and I am not sure if my friend ever went to church again. He stopped talking to me and we finally lost touch.

That church was nothing more than a members only social club. Their bouncers were called ushers. Their membership fee was collected with offering plates and they had a strict dress code. All new memberships were by invitation only, and they had to be approved.

Jesus did not reject the lost, and we should welcome them just as they are. Until they come to know Jesus, you can save the commandments for your Bible study, for they don't apply to the lost. It is not the outside of us that matters anyway, but the inside (Matthew 23:27).

It is always a religious spirit that rejects the lost, not the Holy Spirit. Jesus ate and drank with the sinners, while the religious pharisees stood outside and watched. If we reject the lost and hurting that try and come to us, then we have become nothing more than a social club.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please let me see the world through Your eyes. Help me see the good that You have placed in people and value them. Please don't let me ever drive someone away from You, but instead use me to bring them to You, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

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