Something is on my heart today, and my husband encouraged me to blog about it. That's part of the reason I have a blog, to get things off my chest, so to speak.
I have a large group of online friends. Some of us are pastors' wives, some are missionaries, most are just regular church members. Many of us are Baptist; some are not. We all get along well together. As a general rule, we treat each other with dignity and love, even when we disagree about things. So my blogging about this is not to hurt my sister in Christ, but simply to vent a little about something that has troubled me for quite a while. This just brought it to the forefront for me.
Yesterday one of my friends mentioned a recent trip to Wal Mart where she noticed that one of the cashiers was a young man who was obviously into Goth (I think that's what you'd call it!). He was dressed all in black with dog chains around his neck and long shaggy black hair. She wondered what Wal Mart is coming to.
In the first place, Wal Mart is a public company, and as such, is bound by law to hire people who are qualified to do the work, regardless of their age, race, religion, etc. I don't think we can take issue with Wal Mart for hiring people who live lifestyles that we don't approve of. Now, I would think that their company dress standards would prohibit the dog chains and shaggy hair, but their hiring him in the first place is irrelevant.
Secondly, and more importantly, I feel, is that we need to be careful how we treat people as followers of Christ. I have friends who won't go through the line of a certain cashier at Wal Mart because he is effeminate. They assume he is gay (a logical assumption), so they won't so much as go through his checkout line. They have even gotten out of his line when they've realized it is his. Now someone else is wondering what Wal Mart is coming to by hiring a young man who is apparently involved in the Goth lifestyle. If you don't agree with me, that's fine; but I ask you to take a look at your attitudes and how your actions reflect upon Jesus Christ.
Jesus was known as a friend of publicans and sinners. That's partially why the Pharisees didn't like Him. He went in and actually sat down and ate with publicans, the tax collectors who were despised by the Jews because they were men who stole from their own countrymen. Understandable. I probably wouldn't like them much, either. Yes, the publicans were living a wicked lifestyle. So were the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery (by the Pharisees, incidentally) and cast at Jesus' feet for judgment. But what was Jesus' response to these wicked people? He forgave their sins; He showed them mercy. He didn't refuse to have anything to do with them! He had come to save these very sinners!
How does this apply to us today? We love to piously sing, "To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask, to be like Him . . ." and then we go out to Wal Mart and thumb our noses at all those sinners we see shopping and working there. To be like Jesus . . . refuse to go through the Goth's line. To be like Jesus . . . leave in righteous indignation that Wal Mart has hired a homosexual. To be like Jesus . . . call Wal Mart's corporate headquarters and complain about their Goth employee. To be like Jesus . . . when you realize you're in "that queer's" checkout line, move to another line and make it obvious why you're changing lines. Yep, that's teaching the world a lesson they'll never forget: Christians really are narrow-minded bigots who won't soil their lily-white hands with anyone who isn't pure like they are.
Wes and I were in downtown Vancouver Thursday. If you want to see how things really are, go to the downtown area of a major city and just sit down and watch the people passing by. I did. I cried. Two million people here and very little of the Gospel getting to them. Why? Because we Christians can't rub shoulders with the homosexuals, the Goths, the prostitutes, the homeless, the runaways, the outcasts of society. We also can't hand a tract to a purple-spiked-hair college student, or an immodestly dressed teenaged girl, or that guy on the corner with piercings in all the visible parts of his body.
Please don't misunderstand me. I am not suggesting you make the Goth at Wal Mart your best buddy or go to a party with the homosexual. I'm not suggesting that you expose your children to all the wickedness in the world. I'm not suggesting that ladies go downtown and see what the prostitute's life is all about. All I'm saying is that you and I are the only real, saved Christians that some of these people that we run into in the course of a day might ever have contact with. Do they see Jesus, who was the friend of sinners? Do they see mercy? Or do they see a Pharisee, someone who can't be soiled by these sinners, these very sinners who Jesus died to save? How are they going to hear the Gospel when saved people won't even go through their line at Wal Mart and hand them a tract? They sure won't go to a Gospel-preaching church (and I could write a book on how a church congregation would react to one of them walking in the door!). Our Lord left us a Great Commission to fulfill, and we're failing Him. What a shame. How will we be able to look in His eyes when we see Him?