As a follow up to last week’s article about visiting a black church, let me add a few comments regarding some of the crazy stuff that occurs in the name of religion.
First: an editorial mea culpa. A typo escaped unobserved in my last article, “Standing out in the crowd.” This was because my wife was away. She is spending time enjoying our grandchildren in Arkansas. She usually proofs my articles. In case you don’t know this, it is almost impossible to proof your own writing unless you let it sit for a while. I let books sit but not newspaper articles. There isn’t time.
Back to “Religion can drive you nuts.” Funny things happen in church. You know why? People are involved and people are funny. It’s part of being human. Besides, it is healthy to have fun. If church is a spiritual family, then just think how dysfunctional a family would be if its members never laughed or enjoyed letting their hair down. Of course there is a big difference between laughing “with” someone versus laughing “at” someone. Humor must never belittle another person or be used to ridicule someone. Most of the time when I am funny, it is an accident, not on purpose. Can I get an “Amen?” Being able to laugh is good for me since I’m often dealing with serious issues in people’s lives.
But humor happens. When a white man like me dressed up in blue shows up at a black church on Sunday that’s having a special event where everyone is wearing red or black, I thought it was hilarious to say, “I’m so glad I’m here but I’m sorry I’m the wrong color!” In God’s eyes no one is ever the wrong color. Listen, in heaven there will be no segregation and in the church we must not discriminate. Some things do occur in churches that are not funny at all - in fact, they are very sad.
Last week our church had a couple of new young adults attend. It was her first time to be among us. They sat next to each other like friends will do. She was black and he was white. What made them stand out? They both had tattoos! I thought nothing of it and we gladly welcomed them. But Christian hospitality is not always to be expected. A friend of mine in Meridian recently told how a young couple (one white, one black) had visited his parent’s church only to have the pastor preach against inter-racial marriage. How embarrassing. Hey… Moses’ wife was black, so get over it. It is sad when a preacher expounds on a topic that’s not sound doctrine.
When my unsaved neighbor in Arkansas tried to visit a Baptist church and was turned away at the door by a deacon because she had tattoos - that was evil. Such craziness happened in my church once. Without my knowledge, an eight -year old boy whom I had baptized the week before was turned away on the steps of Central Assembly of God in Louisiana by a deacon who said to his parents, “You’ll be happier at a black church down the street.” What he did was wicked. It was a sin.
Racism angers God. For tolerating this among us, we need to repent. We need to get all hatred out of our heart. Love people - all people. Jesus died for people and we dare not forget it.
Ron Wood is senior pastor of Trinity Assembly of God in Meridian. 601-483-8189. trinitymeridian.com. Hear “The Father’s Power” radio show on 103.3 FM Sundays at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. This Sunday’s program discusses healing and miracles.