May 11, 2011

From The Mouths Of Babes

My hope for the future generation of Christians was dashed a little on Sunday. A boy, young enough to still say whatever stomps through his mind, yet old enough to form pretty strong opinions of how things ought to be, asked me on Sunday when I was going to start behaving like a real pastor.I was shocked, I didn't know what we meant.

As it turns out by behaving like, he meant look like.

Admittedly I have been expecting for some time now a question like that, just not from a child.

Last summer I took my suit off and decided not to put it back on, except in special occasions. Now I don't think I dress like a slob. On Sunday's I am in the sanctuary I tend to wear dark jeans, a dress shirt, a blazer and dress shoes. If I am doing something outside of the sanctuary, like being down with the kids well then I dress down a little more.

Like I said I don't think I look like a sob. But then again he didn't accuse me of looking slobby.

Boy: When are you going to start acting like a real pastor?
Me: What do you mean?
Boy: Like wearing a suit, and tie.
Me: What's wrong with how I am dressing?
Boy: You should just wear a suit, instead of that. You should dress nice for church, instead of looking like you stumbled out of the bar.
Me: [Stunned silence]

Now I know what I should have said. We should have talked about how God judges based on the heart, and not the outward appearance. We should have talked about 1 Samuel 16:7, "But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” And had we not being having a little side conversation while my partner was giving her Sunday school lesson we would have.

The Dangers Of Trying To Be A Young Hip Pastor
This event left me feeling a little disheartened about our up and coming generation of Christians. Many of us assume the concept of 'Sunday Best' is on it's way out. That causal, come as you are Sunday is becoming the new normal. Chances are that is true. That relatively soon most churches will be 'casual'. But just taking off our suits and ties is not the same thing as changing our attitude.

And it does not address the our general failure to seek to know the heart of a person.

The truth is many of us make quick judgments by outward appearance, or like just as bad after minimal interaction. There is no denying it we take in a lot of information with our eyes, and we make snap judgement's after only seconds of conversation. It is natural, it's easy, it's efficient, but as Christians is not what we are called to do.

We are called to get to the heart of the matter. We are called to see beyond first impressions no matter how good or how bad. We are called to look past outward appearances no matter how shiny or shabby.

The desire to judge by the outside will not simply go away. It is something we have to actively eradicate. And it is not something that will simply stay away either. We will have to be vigilant in guarding against it.

God sees the heart. Let us try to look for it too.