When MaryJo and I take a weekend ride, we would search to find a place to worship on Sunday morning. We have done this since we started riding in 2007. I cant always promise that my attire is a 3-piece suit (like I would wear one even if I had one!), but we do make our best effort to be presentable. Usually fresh jeans and a nice polo shirt.
Not always can we show up looking as well as we would like. A few years ago, we had spent the weekend in Christiansburg while my youngest was at Virginia Tech. We got up Sunday morning and headed north. There is a town where we have attended church several times when we are in the area. We had gotten to know a few people there.
This particular Sunday, it started raining as we were leaving Christiansburg. This little town is about an hour away. We pull over, put on rain gear, and get back on the road to get to church. Rain and wet roads slow us down, we pull into the lot just as church is starting. We shed our rain gear and I take all of our stuff inside. It is a bit chilly, so one of the ushers offers to help me lay out our rain gear and helmets to dry while one of the other ushers led MaryJo into the service to help her find a seat.
For those that have never worn motorcycle rain gear, let me share some information with you. First, if worn properly, it will keep the rain off of you. Second, you will sweat, which means your clothes may get wet. Even though we had worn our rain gear, we are still a little wet, especially our boots.
So, MaryJo has gotten a seat, I have laid out all our stuff, now I head into the service. I see her sitting there, so I come and sit next to her. There was a lady that didn’t seem too happy that I was there. Actually, she didn’t seem happy that EITHER of us were there. After a minute or two, the lady huffs loudly and gets up to move. She kept looking at us like we ruined her coming to church. After she has moved, the lady that was on the other side of her, welcomes us and we chat for a bit.
The husband of the lady that moved was serving communion, so he wasn’t sitting with her at the start. After the communion, he walks up the side aisle, looks at us, smiles, shakes my hand, looks around for his wife, then with a puzzled look sees her a few rows away, goes to sit next to her. All through the service, the lady kept looking back at us. At least she did until the sermon starts. The topic of the sermon was to not judge people by their outward appearance.
Remember, I had mentioned that we had been to this church several times before. We had met her husband during our previous visits. We had always talked about traveling and us riding a motorcycle. After the service, he came over to us to welcome us once again. He mentioned that his wife had not been present during any of our previous visits and he wanted her to meet us. Funny, she could not be found. Not sure why, but I think she might have been a bit embarrassed.
This memory came back recently as I was on my way to church. MaryJo takes her aunt to church while I go to Sunday School. She drops her aunt off at the house then joins me just as church service starts. When weather is about anything except rain, I ride the bike. If I plan to take a ride after church, I bring a pair of jeans and shirt to change into after church.
This morning as I was on my way to church, there is a lady weaving on the road. I speed up to get around her. As I pass I see her wagging her finger at me with a curled lip, as if in disgust with me. Once past, I get into the right lane, turn right on the road for church, then turn into the church lot. As I pull into a spot, I notice her parking across the lot from me. We make eye contact from a distance and I get another finger wag. I just smile and remember my previous experience.
This brings me to ask, because I don’t wear a suit, and don’t come to church in a car or truck, does that make me any less of a Christian? I know that going to church on Sunday doesn’t automatically make someone a Christian or give them access to the express lane into Heaven. Does the fact I ride a motorcycle to church mean that I am NOT a Christian? I know that is a silly question. No, riding a motorcycle does not mean I am not a Christian. Nor does it make me less of a Christian that someone that had ridden in a car (or horse drawn buggy) their entire life? I know, this is another silly question.
But, there is a point to all of this. Let’s look at ourselves and ask if WE have a Christian heart. We all sin and fall short of God’s mercy and grace. God gets to make the decision as to who He welcomes into Heaven. Who gives us the right to sneer and look down on others? When I was in high school, my hair was longer than many of the other kids in church, but still a lot shorter than many in my school. I tried to live as a Christian example. Yet I was told that if I didn’t cut my hair I would go to Hell. I won’t go into specifics, but that conversation ended with me telling that person I would see him there and led to many years avoiding church. My parents never knew why I quit going to church as willingly as before, they never knew why I have never been in that church since.
I have an idea. Let’s try to help our fellow Christians. No, better yet, let us ALL try to help all our fellow humans. Think of the Good Samaritan, who was the neighbor of the injured man? Let’s use the Bible as our guideline, not our previous opinions.