I saw him in the
church building for the first-time last Wednesday.
He was in his
mid-70's, with thinning silver hair and a neat brown suit.
Many times, in the
past I had invited him to come.
Christian friends had talked to him about the Lord and had tried to
share the Good News with him.
He was a
well-respected, honest man with so many characteristics a Christian
should have, but he had never put-on Christ.
I had asked him a
few years ago, have you ever been to a church service in your life?
We had just finished
a pleasant day of visiting and talking.
He hesitated. Then
with a bitter smile he told me of a childhood experience some sixty
He was one of many
children in a large, impoverished family.
His parents had
struggled to provide food, with little left for housing and clothing.
When he was about
ten, some neighbors invited him to worship with them.
The Bible class had
been extremely exciting.
He had never heard
such songs and stories before.
He had never heard
anyone read from the Bible before.
After class was
over, the teacher took him aside.
The teacher said,
“Son, please don't come again dressed as you are now.”
We want to look our
best when we come worship the Lord.
He stood in his
ragged, unpatched overalls looking at his bare dirty feet.
He said, “no
ma'am, I won't ever! and I never did, he said, abruptly ending our
experience formed a significant part of the bitterness in his heart.
I'm sure the Bible
teacher meant well.
But what if she had
studied and accepted the teachings found in the second chapter of James?
(My brothers and
sisters; do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with
an attitude of personal favoritism.
For if a man comes
into your assembly with a gold ring and is dressed in bright clothes
and a poor man in
dirty clothes also comes in
and you pay special
attention to the one who is wearing the bright clothes, and say, “You
sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand
over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made
distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
What if she had put
her arms around that dirty, ragged little boy and said, Son, I'm so glad
you are here, and I hope you will come every chance you get to hear to
hear more about Jesus!
I prayed that I
might never fail to see beyond the appearance and behavior of a child to
the eternal possibilities within.
As I looked at that “immaculately
dressed old gentleman” lying in his casket, I thought of
the little boy of long ago.
I could almost hear
him say, "No ma'am, I won't ever! … and I wept.