At worship this morning I heard a story that was both amazing and depressing. The amazing part was the life story of a man who is part of our church. His name is “Bear,” and is one of the most well-known tattoo artists in Austin. About nine years ago he began to follow Jesus. Everyone around him witnessed his changed life. It was a testimony of God’s grace and power. As encouraging as his story was, it was equally depressing to hear about how the first two churches he tried to join asked him to leave! I could hardly believe it.
I gave a little thought to the two reasons the churches asked him to leave and recorded some of my thoughts here. The first church asked him to leave, saying he was a bad example to the kids. The second church asked him to leave, saying he was a distraction to worship.
You’re A Bad Example
What example do you really want your kids to see?” Do you want them to believe that Jesus only welcomes people like them? Do you want them to believe that some people are beyond God’s grace? Do you want them to believe people need to “clean up” before they are welcome in the church? I thought of dozens of similar questions.
I’d much prefer my kids to see that God works in all kinds of people. In fact, part of the reason I am a part of my church is its diversity. I actually believe that “Bear” is the perfect example for kids to see. Kids can look at this man with all of his tattoos and piercings and see a man who has been transformed. I’m sure we’re all pleased that there was an Ananias to welcome Saul, the worst of sinners, into the Kingdom!
If a man with tattoos is a distraction to worship, I have to wonder… “Who are you focusing on in worship?” When I worship, I try to focus on only one person: Jesus. I try to keep my eyes on Him alone.
That said, when I worship on Sundays I find that the diversity of people enhances my worship. It reminds me of God’s grace. I see people around me whose stories are very different than mine, yet at the same time so similar. We have each, in God’s unique ways, experienced God’s grace and salvation and are being made more like Christ each day. I sure am glad that Jesus welcomed the woman in the pharisees house and did not consider her a “distraction” for worship!