After reading this: Do you think the church is more like a harlot or a bride?
She was in her mid-to-late twenties they thought. She walked into the sanctuary just as the congregation sang its last hymn before the message. The back row offered her an obscure seat out of view of the congregation. She could listen and remain unnoticed. She had pulled her hair up on her head into a neat bun on top. A pretty pink bow held her hair in place. Her pink striped dress appeared freshly pressed.
As the service ended and the congregation stood to sing a final hymn she slipped out the door at the rear of the sanctuary just as quietly as she slipped in.
She returned to the same church for several more weeks. Eventually one of the ladies of the church introduced herself and the pretty young visitor to a few of her friends.
The girl still remained somewhat distant, arrived just in time for the message, then slipped out the door without hanging around to chat or visit. One of the ladies of the church invited the young visitor to dinner on the ground the church was having the next week and she said she’d bring something, but she didn’t show up for church the next week.
Eventually the church ladies invited the young visitor to their women’s Bible study on Wednesday evening after the service. The church was a large, urban, Black Baptist church in an older, slowly deteriorating area of Atlanta, so many of its members commuted from the city’s suburbs to attend church.
The shy, attractive visitor attended the Bible study for several weeks, carrying a tattered King James Bible and following along, but never participating.
One Sunday after church, and after the young visitor left the building, one of the church ladies gathered several other church ladies together. She told her friends that one of her friends who attended another Baptist church in the next block had seen the visitor walking out of the church a few Sundays before. The church lady said her friend told her that young woman was a prostitute her friend had seen standing on a corner a few blocks from the church.
The ladies of the church decided to have an ad hoc committee meeting to decide what they would do. They didn’t think it was necessary to invite the pastor to the meeting. They decided they didn’t think they wanted women of her “vocation” they called it, in their church. The next Sunday, when the pretty young visitor left church, the eldest church lady followed her out the door and broke the news. She said the church had decided that they didn’t want her kind of people coming to their church.
Before we get all self-righteous and Pharisaical with that “church” for its own sanctimonious behavior we need to be sure we know what our church would do in a similar situation.
What if you discovered there were prostitutes coming to your church? Or drug users? Or ex-convicts?
What would your church do? Do you know? Do you even care?
Sadly, I think lots of churches would react with disdain and condemnation, and not love. The tone would be, “Let’s get rid of her.” Not “Love One Another.” The church, in my view, looks down on folks who aren’t like them. Who come from different backgrounds. Who come into their presence with a semi-trailer full of sins. It’s just gall to think that some churches would look on a young woman who God made (and who is seeking to find Him) with condemnation. How shallow! How sinful. That’s not “Love one another“. It’s “Judge one another“.
Think for a minute. Examine yourself. And your church. What would your personal response be to a young women wandering in off the streets, looking like a twenty-dollar hooker, to attend your church? If you usher, would you try to tuck her away in a back pew (with the rest of the Baptists :>) )? If you spotted her as she walked in, would you greet her, welcome her, invite her to sit with you?
Unfortunately, many churches, in my opinion, would rather not have folks like her in their congregations, let alone invite one of “her kind” to become involved. To those folks who would look down on her, I say to you that if Jesus were here, He would hang out with her. He would be drawn to her. She would be drawn to Him. He would call you hypocrites for your shameful, condescending behavior. Your holier-than-thou attitude will drive people away rather than draw them to Jesus.
So, which is it? Is the church more like a harlot? Or more like a bride?
Thank you, and may God richly bless you.