Thursday, September 22, 2011

Christians only...sinners need not apply...

Today it was "club day" on my college campus. All of the clubs (outdoors club, art club, anime club, PRIDE club, etc) had set up little tables in the main foyer and were trying to get new members.

Smack dab in the doorway, separated from the masses, was one table that caught my eye.


On the table were some archaic looking pictures of Jesus with one of those orbs of utter holiness coming from his head.  A little box with a slit in the top was labeled "prayer requests." The only person at or around the table was the woman behind it. I couldn't help myself. I had to talk to her and try and figure this out.

"So...are only Catholics welcomed in your club?"

"The majority of the attendees and members are Catholics."

"Why do you have a club?"

"It is nice to have a group of people who share the same beliefs as you on campus. It is a good way for us (Catholics) to get to know each other. It is always nice to gather together, pray and spend time with other believers. If you would really like to check us out you could though."

"Oh, I'm a Bible-believing Christian. I was just curious, that's all." and I walked away.

The woman seemed nice enough. But something bothered me. I was bothered by the location of her table. She was so separate from the rest. The gays, lesbians, Hispanics, African American, culinary arts people, outdoorsy people, artists, military, writers, science majors and everyone else were grouped together, tables forming lines or semi circles. But the Catholics had their own table, off by themselves. I felt like they needed a sign that read "SINNERS NEED NOT ATTEND."

Now, I am not saying bad things about Catholics here. Really. I am also not against gathering with believers and praying. Not all at. It's Biblical. It is good and wonderful to build up each other and share in one another's lives. In fact, I am about to go attend a small group meeting with girls within my church. This is more me feeling let down by the "religiosity" we pin onto Christianity, though it shouldn't be that way.

People stereotype Christians. The horrible thing is that people are usually right. So many Christians come across as religious, "Holier Than Thou," and too good and clean for sinners. Instead of loving people, they judge them. Church gets portrayed as a place for the holiest of holy people who can manage to follow all the heavenly regulations without fail and filthy, rotten sinners need not attend.

Hold up. Maybe your church is fully of saintly perfect people, but I know mine is full of sinners. Lots of them. About 900. *GASSSP* As my pastor would say "there is no such thing as a perfect church and if there was, you'd it up when you start coming."

Church is practically a sinner club. Sounds awful? Not really. We are all sinners. Yes, I am saved and made clean by the blood of Jesus, but I do not live a spotless perfect life. Only Jesus did that. Church isn't supposed to be a place to protect Bible-believers from the big bad world. In fact, the Bible says BE IN THE WORLD, but not of it. Not hide from the world in your clubs and churches until Christ comes back to rescue you.

Jesus loved sinners. He hung out with them and liked it! He didn't do it to condemn them to eternal damnation in hell, but to show them the love of His Kingdom. He hung out with them far more than he did with the "holy" religious leaders of the time. Jesus hung out with the unlovely. The rejects of society. The people no one liked. And he loved them.

Jesus didn't attend community college, obviously, but if he had I don't think he would have joined a group promoting religious beliefs alike only to His. He wouldn't have joined the Jewish/Pharisee/Holy People Only club. But he probably would have gladly joined all the others.

In his book the The Irresistible Revolution, author Shane Claiborne (He is amazing, btw) says this:
What would twenty-year-old Jesus have said if they asked him "What are you going to do when you grow up?" I don't know, maybe something like "I am going to turn the world upside-down. I am going to hang out with prostitutes and tax collectors until people kill me."

I think this view of Jesus loving the unlovely is wonderfully portrayed in the Relient K (a band I once loved, but no longer would recommend) "Failure to Excommunicate." The chorus contains these lines...
"Jesus loved the outcasts. He loved the ones the world just loves to hate. And as long as there's a heaven, there will be a failure to excommunicate."
 I want to love the one the world just loves to hate too. Because Jesus is the one I want to model my life after.

Maybe this is all an unnecessary rant. Maybe there is nothing at all wrong with Christian clubs. But I would feel a whole lot better if Christians as a whole stopped segregating themselves from the world and just got out there and did some loving. Real, Jesus-style.

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