My mom was a people watcher. One of her favorite past times was to sit on a bench at the beach, and watch the people walk by on the boardwalk.
She could spend hours doing this. In her defense, there were a lot of interesting sites to see. There was a down side to her favorite past-time though. She did not hide her expressions if she thought what people were wearing or what they were doing was a little “out there.”
It was particularly embarrassing at the mall. She would pass someone, give them a look, and continue to crank her head around to see them once she walked past them. She just couldn’t help herself. This lead to a few disasters of walking into glass walls, tripping over her own two feet, and knocking items off of clothing racks. Many giggle fits took place after these mishaps. I have to admit these are some of my favorite memories of her.
I get to do a lot of people watching on Sunday mornings at church. I’m at the Guest Service area where new people can get information about the church. It’s one of the first things you see when you walk in so I pretty much get to see everyone that walks through the door. I paid particular attention this past Easter Sunday. Our church has a casual dress policy, but on Easter Sunday people tend to dress up. Everyone looked so nice in their “Sunday best.” I mentioned that I was extra observant this past Sunday. The reason for this was my son agreed to come and I was anxiously awaiting his arrival. It’s been a tradition for years to go to church as a family on Easter (we used to go every Sunday as a family, but times have changed). You see, he’s pretty much given up on God right now. Unanswered prayer does that sometimes. But I asked him if he would come and he said yes. I wasn’t sure if he would because back in September I started this blog (with his permission) that pretty much outed him as a gay young man. I wasn’t sure if he would be brave enough to walk through the doors. I can only imagine how self-conscious he felt.
I’m very grateful that there were two ladies in the lobby who have known him since he was a little boy who gave him a welcoming hug. I can tell you that this would not happen at all churches. Did you know that there are websites that gay Christians visit to find gay affirming churches? These are churches that welcome LGBT people. Can you imagine having to do that for yourself? The Bible says very strong things against divorce, but divorced and/or remarried people don’t have to find divorce affirming churches. I could give many other examples. I have friends that would have loved to go to church on Easter, but couldn’t because their church has kicked them out because of their gay children. And these are children who haven’t had sex. They are discriminated against for how they were born.
So along with everyone in their Sunday best, I also saw greed, anger, jealousy, lust, and many others walk through the doors of my church. Are they repenting of these sins? I have no idea. No one knows what is truly in the heart of another. Yet they were all welcome. There was no one at the door checking sin ID’s.
Let me ask you…if you’re neighbor was an addict, would you invite them to church? If you knew a couple where infidelity was tearing them apart, would you invite them to church? If you had a gay friend, would you invite them to church? What if they had a partner? Would you invite both? I bet two things run through your mind with the last question. Would they be allowed in my church? Would people think I was “ok” with them being gay if they walked in with me?
I wonder…what would Jesus do?
Love each other…because it really matters.