A pastor’s apology
Published 10:21 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019
By Nathan Rice
We were engaged in the typical small talk of weather, traffic and current events when the discussion of employment came into the conversation. The gentlemen with whom I was speaking worked at a restaurant, and he began to talk about the type of day he was expecting at work. The next day was Sunday, and he lamented the fact his restaurant would be filled with people who had just left their respective church services. “Church people are often the meanest and rudest people I serve,” he said. “And they normally don’t tip well.”
Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone who works at a restaurant make this statement. I’ve spoken with many who have said the same thing. Waiters and waitresses often hate working on Sundays, and their primary reason for disliking that day is the attitudes and behaviors of those who come straight from a house of worship.
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I may have no right to speak for the entire Christian church, but can I, as a pastor, offer an apology on the church’s behalf? I’m sorry. I offer my sincere apology to all those who have worked on a Sunday and have been mistreated by those who came from a church.
I’ll make this as clear as possible. This is appalling. It is unacceptable, and it does not represent Christ. I have personally preached against this type of behavior, and I will correct anyone under my care who treats someone poorly.
I make no excuses, but I do offer some explanations in the hopes that those who have been treated poorly by a church attendee can gain a better understanding of the situation.
First, not everyone who attends a church proclaims to be a part of the Christian faith. Many people attend church services or events because of culture or family tradition. Some are looking for friendship while others are seeking the truth. Many who attend have never decided to follow Christ or accept His message. They may be a part of a local church, but they have never truly joined the one global church of Jesus Christ.
Next, many people declare the title of Christian, but have never truly surrendered their lives to the God they proclaim to love and serve. Their form of Christianity is based more on a tradition and culture than a faith that transforms. They enjoy some of the concepts of Christianity, but they ignore the aspects that demand a change in their own lives. Like the group mentioned earlier, they may be a part of the local church, but they do not represent the one true church of Christ.
Lastly, there are some who are true followers of Christ but have yet to fully understand how to behave. The Bible compares people who have recently given their lives to Christ as newborn babies. Like babies, growth and change do not happen overnight. It takes time, help, discipline, training and nurturing. Some of those who are mean or rude have not grown in the faith. The goal is that they will grow in the faith and the love they found through Christ will shine through them in their actions and behavior, but this will take some time. Consider them the toddlers or teenagers in the family of God.
Once again, I apologize on behalf of the church. I know those working on Sunday don’t always see the love, mercy and grace proclaimed by the church displayed by some who just left its building. I encourage you to not let the actions of some keep you from discovering the joy that comes from meeting the One the church proclaims. Don’t group everyone you meet who comes from a church together. Keep your eyes open, and you’ll see those whose love, peace and patience radiate through their lives. They are the accurate representation of Christ.
Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at email@example.com.