I had already put in a full day of remodeling at my home. I dropped by a nearby McDonald’s for a quick bite and to relax for a minute before I went back at it. I was hoping to let my mind veg over a show I like. However, as I stood in line, a boisterous, middle-aged gentleman made his presence known in a variety of ways. A couple of times he spoke loudly, though not rudely, to the employees informing them of the needs at the drink station. Looking around, I could tell people were a little annoyed by this man’s volume level. He was clearly disturbing what was the “normal” for their restaurant visits.
When I received my meal I looked for a seat. One of the only open ones was at a table next to that same gentleman. As I sat down he was in conversation with a teenage guy who was sitting by himself. He quickly turned the conversation to both of us. When I picked up the conversation, the teen guy quickly finished and left. I got the impression this man carries conversations like this everywhere he goes. The chat jumped from baseball to football, from rules to politics to jobs. Finally, the topic of religion came up.
I talked about the church I worked with and invited him to come. Then something very interesting happened. His very first question after my invitation was this: “Does everyone wear suits at your church?”
This really struck a cord with me. His primary concern wasn’t with our doctrine. He wasn’t concerned about what we teach. He didn’t care about the programs we had in place. He wasn’t focused on who the preacher is. This man wanted to know if it would be a problem if he showed up to worship in jeans and a t-shirt. What this man really wanted to know was: Would he find acceptance here?
Both our world and what appeals to people today has changed. People aren’t nearly as concerned with truth as they are first with relationships. This should cause us to stop and start asking some different questions.
If someone showed up Sunday morning in shorts and a t-shirt, what would our reaction be? Are we more focused on the lack of a suit or the state of the soul? Would we be upset by their attire, or excited at the prospect of a soul who needs guidance? Would we show such an overwhelming love, interest, and support in the person that they would feel accepted?
Our world desperately needs the gospel. The problem is, many people aren’t interested in listening to the good news until we can simply show them that we care about them. Sometimes in order to teach the truth, we first need to show our love so the truth can be heard (Ephesians 4:15). It’s time to start seeing as God sees and look past the fickle appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). Besides, what people wear tends to change naturally with spiritual growth anyway! It’s time to stop judging so harshly on silly details and focus on the big picture, their soul (Matthew 7:1-2). It’s time stop being soil detectors and start being impartial seed spreaders (Matthew 13:1-23).
Here is the reality; this man has visited your congregation. No, I don’t mean the exact man I met at McDonald’s, but someone just like him. Someone has come looking for relationships, friendships, community, and acceptance. And without fail, someone will also be coming in the near future. Will this person find acceptance in you? Will this person find love in your congregation?