I just started a new Bible study called, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” In the study Phillip Yancey talked about a “poll” he took over a period of time while he was flying from here to there. He would ask this question of people he sat next to on the plane: “When you hear ‘evangelical Christian,’ what’s the first word that comes to mind?” Phillip says he heard so many negative descriptions, but he never heard the word “grace” mentioned.
The people of the world aren’t nearly as impressed with us as we are impressed with ourselves. Many of them have a bad taste in their mouth about Christians. I ran into one of those guys Monday morning.
I had just arrived back at the office for a meeting at 11 am when a man came up to the door on a motorized scooter. I opened the door and asked, “Can I help you?” His speech was slurred because of his cerebral palsy. He said he had missed the bus to go to work and needed a ride. I told him I’d like to help, but I had a meeting at 11. He went off on me. He said, “I knew I shouldn’t have come to church! People in the clubs are more helpful than people in the church. Church people are just hypocrites! I knew I shouldn’t have come to a church!” I said, “You really believe that?” He said that he did with the passion of tent revival preacher. I said, “I’ll tell you what—I’m going to skip my meeting so I can take you to work. Come on and get in my truck.” I started walking to my truck not knowing if he was following me or not. When I got across the street I glanced behind me and he was following me in his scooter. I loaded his scooter, got in my truck, and began to pull out of the parking lot when I turned to him and said, “You are about the most self-righteous person I’ve ever met in my life.” We turned onto Britton Road when I said, “There’s a club there, and there, and there…next time you need help you might want to stop by those places since they would be so willing to give you a ride across town.” He said, “I feel bad about what I said.” I said, “You shouldn’t feel bad…you ticked me off and that’s why you’re getting a ride to work. I’m giving you a ride because I need to fix your twisted thinking. What ‘club’ is so full of such nice people?” He said, “I was talking about motorcycle clubs. You know how they collect money for little kids?” I said, “Yeah, I know. I also know they kill each other down in Waco. Did you hear about that?” He said he did. I said, “What’s your name any way?” He said, “Carl.” I stuck out my hand to shake his and said, “I’m Mike. Carl, you don’t even know me yet you lumped in the same category as people who have treated you badly. Next time your thinking gets twisted about how hypocritical God’s people are I want you to remember the guy you had never met in your life that skipped his meeting so he could give you a ride all the way across town.”
Carl said he didn’t really mean what he said. I said, “You did mean it or you wouldn’t have said it. There are hypocrites in the church just like there are hypocrites everywhere, but what better place is there for hypocrites than the church? Where are they going to hear about how they can change their ways if they don’t come to hear God’s Word? By the way, there are also people who are truly seeking to live for Jesus in the church also.”
We got to Carl’s work and I unloaded his scooter. I said, “Come here Carl, I’m going to take your picture.” He said, “Why do you want my picture?” I said, “I need to prove to the lady I was going to meet with that I really was with somebody. I’m going to tell her I was with the meanest man I’ve ever met in my life.” Carl smiled. I got my phone out to take a selfie of me and Carl when I said, “Now you better smile or she’s going to believe me when I tell her how mean you are.”
Carl and I prayed together before I left and I asked the Lord to change Carl’s heart about his thinking about God’s people. I also asked the Lord to send people Carl’s way who would love him like Jesus loves him. Our city is full of people like Carl. When they see us, mix and mingle with us, they see right through us…and I’m afraid they don’t see Jesus. Lord, help us to allow Your light to shine so that the world might come to know your love, grace, and mercy for them.