Last night, I went to My Favourite Starbucks (MFS) to get some reading done and get out of my apartment.  As mentioned previously, I was reading The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne.  I actually finished it, so mission accomplished.  But while I was there, I ended up having an hour long conversation with an older gentleman who had asked what I was reading.

It seems he would be in the category of “disgruntled Christian.”  He told me he’d gone to church for 27 years, but then (recently) he began to have issues with what they were saying from the pulpit and doing in the congregations and so he quit going.  He used to be in ministry, was involved, and so on.   But, before I knew any of this, when he asked about my book, I told him it was a book that encouraged Christians to live like Jesus did, to love like Him, to take care of the homeless, the orphans and so on.

This opened a can of worms, but it was clear he didn’t want to dialogue, only to go back to his platforms.  I was asked about what I thought about the state of churches today, because he does not believe any of them preach the truth anymore (I would venture to say he believes they are too seeker-friendly, although he did not use that terminology).  He lamented the fact that churches are only out to get money, by selling sermons on dvd and selling coffee in the sanctuary (and I did put forth that most of the time, churches only cover their costs by these services).  He was very fixated on the book of Revelation, one of those who believes it will, without a doubt, happen in his lifetime because of all the evil in the world and the signs.  He knew his Bible, that’s for sure, but he seemed to want to focus on the problems and not the solutions.

I offered that we can only control ourselves and our actions, that if we are loving like Jesus loved and living like Jesus lived, then surely others will see that and will come alongside us.  He said that no one wants to do that anymore, that Christians (especially Christian women, for some reason, who he saw as incredibly hypocritical and scandalous) are simply out for what makes them feel good, not for what the truth is.  I asked if he was doing his part in being Jesus to the world; his response was “yes, mostly.”  He feels his calling is to ask questions and recognize truth.  I said that our calling as Christians is first and foremost to make disciples.

He then went on to describe his perfect church.  First, if you haven’t been baptized, you aren’t saved.  You need to know that, because it is a pre-requisite for his church.  (And I do mean church with a little ‘c.’)  No one but true believers would be let in.  No one could worship God except for those who are truly saved, and then perhaps God would bless that congregation.

I told him I sincerely hope I never see a church like that.  If Jesus did not come for the sick, who did He come for?  If we cannot eat with the tax-collectors, the prostitutes, the drug addicts, what are we doing as Jesus’ followers?  What better place, in theory, to meet Jesus than in His house, with His followers, worshiping God?  We have so many walls already, why would anyone want to create more?  I am not suggesting the truth is watered down, but I am strongly saying that Jesus died for everyone, so everyone is welcome to come to Him, without stipulations.  Jesus takes you as you are, then He works on you.  You don’t come perfect; you come broken.

Nothing I said seemed to affect this man at all.  And I did not say anything in frustration or anger, although there was certainly passion in my conversation.  In retrospect, I wish I had asked what happened to make him so disillusioned with Christ, why after 27 years he was essentially throwing in the towel, why he wished to be more exclusive rather than more inclusive.  The entire conversation I was praying for wisdom and the right words, and I don’t know if I got either, but I will hope that something I said, if it was at all worthwhile, would encourage this man to reconsider his stance.

After he left, I just sat there, processing, for a good while.  My heart was sad, and still is.  We’ve got such a long way to go as the Body of Christ.