“Who’s that?” Madeline asked pointing to the woman’s image.
“She’s a member of our church,” I said while scanning a particular page of the congregation directory.
“I’ve never seen her in my life,” she continued. She leaned back to snap a bite from the snack she’d just unwrapped.
“That’s because she never comes to church,” I said, fully expecting her curiosity to be met.
A moment passed.
“Wait,” she began to analyze, “how can she still be a member if she never comes to church?”
I put my arm around her and pulled her close, “Very good question, honey.”
I praised her for the sense she’d made, but what I did not do is explain to her that such target-locked logic is nearly impossible to communicate to adults. It makes perfect sense to kids, but for adults it is quite often tantamount to convincing them that 2 plus 2 equals 5. In other words, human beings of the adult persuasion have a tendency to steadfastly argue the legitimacy of never stepping foot in the church with which they hold membership.
Technically, in light of Hebrews 10:23-29 (and so many others), there really are only three valid reasons that come to mind. Well, maybe four.
First, your church teaches false doctrine. If this is true, stay away. But this also assumes you actually care about doctrine and so you’ve taken up membership in another church where there is no questioning your attendance.
Second, you’re a shut-in or hospitalized and can’t get to church. In that case, your pastor most likely brings “church” to you on a regular basis. If he doesn’t, see reason number one.
Third, you’re dead. Not much to discuss with this one.
The fourth…maybe you’re not a Christian anymore. As I’ve heard stated in another forum, “Why would you say you love Jesus and then show disdain for what Jesus says He loves?”
Makes sense. Still, folks will clamor through a litany of excuses stretching as long as the Santa Fe railway.
“I was offended.” Good. Happens to me all the time. Talking about sin has a tendency of doing that. If you’d like, I’ll set some fresh diapers in your pew and I’ll leave a note for the ushers to be ready to pat you on the back if your tummy gets upset.
“I can’t get to church that early.” So says the man who gets up before sunrise to get to the deer blind. Or the family that loads up the gear at 4:30 a.m. and sets out for their favorite campground. Or the woman who gets up before dawn to prepare for her garage sale spree. Or how about the gentleman greeted by his pastor outside a Best Buy store at 3 a.m. hoping to be one of the first to receive some amazing Black Friday deals.
“You’re just asking me to come back because you need my money.” Um, no. You never gave that one time six years ago when you attended so why would I expect you to give now? Believe it or not, I just want you here with the rest of your Christian family.
“The church is full of hypocrites.” Whatever. But just one thing. Assuming you’ve been absent each and every Sunday for the last six years because you’re on a campaign to seek and to find a perfect church, if you do find it, don’t join it, because you’ll ruin it…hypocrite. And since we’re talking about it, let me save you some time in your search: There is no such thing as a perfect church. Oh, happy day that there is such a thing as a perfect dram, however, to help guys like me deal with this taxing factualism.
I’m here to tell you that when I return home after a day of reaching out to “inactives,” it’s an edition like the Benriach 20-year-old that has all that is needed for binding up the conversational gashes and scrapes inflicted by those who would be offended by their pastor urging them to be faithful in worship.
I’m not one to use the term “perfect” with any leniency. I reserve the term for few. This is one of the few.
Once the deeply ambered whisky is in the glass, there is an emerging scent of Concord grapes, malted milk kissed with cinnamon, pumpkin pie, and candied yams. Once in the mouth, the marshmallow sauce on the yams makes its debut alongside equally portioned measures of sherry, tannins, and malt that has become a little bit spicy.
The finish is brilliantly sufficient, gathering through and near to the edge of a medium length extremity, but going no further. And here in this median borderland are found caramel, pepper cookies, and little bit of lime.
You won’t find hypocrites therein, because as I said, it’s perfect, but you’re sure to find them (me) lapping at its shoreline.