We spent 15 years in a strict fundamentalist church environment where men were
encouraged manipulated to wear suits at every service. For a man to show up at church without a suit was almost as bad as a woman showing up in pants or a short skirt. Unless, of course, the man had just got off work and drove straight to church, then he was praised for being so dedicated. A man like this had a reason to not wear a suit, but the rest knew what was expected of them in order to be considered a good church member.
So when the first time I saw my husband preach at a recovery mission in shorts and a baseball jersey, I was a bit squeemish. The fear of being seen out of uniform had taken it’s toll on me, but my husband directed my attention to the apostle Paul when he said,
“I become all things to all people.” ~Paul
And when I became the director of the women’s home I was faced with making a decision about the uniform in order to really connect with the women. They admitted to me that they didn’t feel like they could relate to me because I was “a good Christian lady”. Up until that day, they had never known that I once used street drugs too. Sharing my testimony with them opened the door for me to be able to minister to them and for them to receive it.
I spent some time in prayer, study, and reflection about this dilemma of the Christian uniform. I believe there’s a time and place for such a uniform and I think there’s a time to wear clothing that gets you in the door. If you want to minister to people at the beach you wouldn’t wear a floor length dress, nylons, and heels. This is just a simple example of what many missionaries know to be true. When they go to Africa, China, or the Philippines the best way to connect is to blend in with the culture. They have to study the culture, their mannerisms, their etiquette; and respect it.
God never commanded the entire world to dress like church going Americans. Making villagers in the jungles of South America dress in suits and ties is ludicrous. I always thought it was funny to see church folk go on missions trips only to come back dressed in the villager’s cultural clothes and show a slide show of the villagers wearing white collared shirts with ties.
Evangelism isn’t about converting people into Americans.
It’s also not about converting people to the modern church culture.
Evangelism is loving others.
We don’t have the power to convert people to God. We aren’t the Holy Spirit and should not attempt to do his work in their lives.
God simply invites us to love people.
Sadly, many church folk have been pummeled with fear mongering stories of how ‘evil’ the world is that they can’t even bring themselves to have a conversation with people who are different. They can’t fathom speaking to a homeless man, a prostitute, or even a member of the GLBT community.
Whoever has been discipling these kinds of Christians has done an incredible disservice to God and to them.
We are to build up the faith in one another. If we aren’t building up each other’s faith then how can we possibly show our faith to the world around us? Why would anyone want to believe in a God of such fearful people?
Many religious leaders go directly to the Law in order to condemn each other about having fellowship with those in the dark. They’re very much misguided. How can we shine the light in a dark world if we’re too afraid to go into the dark? Even Jesus dined with the gluttons and sinners. Do we lack faith in God to keep us close to him while we’re there? God sent his people to walk over the Red Sea, to walk in the wilderness, and says he will be with us in the valley of the shadow of death. He most certainly calls us to walk into the darkness and carry to the light with us.
If it frightens you to see fellow Christians walking in the dark and loving those in the valley then please, for God’s sake, remain in silent prayer. When you start shouting from the rooftops that ‘such an such Christian’ is “living in sin” or “dabbling in the dark” you are not only making yourself look foolishly faithless, but you are condemning your own brethren. It’s the enemy who stands at the gate daily accusing the brethren. Whose side are you on anyway?
Even Joseph lived his life in Egypt, among their culture, wearing their clothing, and still loving God!
You may not agree with how a missionary is evangelizing, but it’s not you who is reaching those people. Just because you aren’t called to serve in a certain capacity doesn’t mean no one else is. Making yourselves look foolish isn’t helping the diligent and patient work of a missionary. It might be best if you just reserved your quick and lashing tongue and try prayer instead.
“I just can’t support what you’re doing!”
You can’t be supportive, even in prayer, for the people I’m loving? For the work of the Gospel in my life and in the lives of the people I’m call to love and serve?
“But those people are in sin and you should have nothing to do with them!”
And the passages I see tossed around are from the LAW!
“Do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” ~Paul
The Law doesn’t save anyone! Condemning people isn’t how you win them.
Is that how you and your spouse fell in love? By condemning each other? By calling each other evil?
It’s love that reaches people. If you can’t bring yourselves to love each and ever single person in this world then at least embrace your right to be silent.
Failure of the Mega Church
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