The Exclusive Church

Sermon Text: Ephesians 2:12-13 & Luke 5:17-26

I received and saved this letter about 15 years ago in Akron.  It doesn’t need any further introduction.  Let me read it for you:

Dear Pastor Terry,

                It is with much regret that I inform you that my husband and I will no longer ever be attending your church. I refuse to go to a church of hypocrites who make a mockery of Jesus’ preaching. Where does the church get off judging or believing themselves better than others? 

                If Jesus walked in today with long hair, sandals and a long gown, would you throw him out or tear him down? Jesus said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” “Whoever is without fault let him cast the first stone.” He also said, “As you have done for one of the least of these, so you have done for me also.” Jesus treated people fairly and looked at what was in their heart and soul, not their outward appearance. He ate with lepers and tax collectors, he ate with sinners. So then, what gives your members the right to judge and tear apart my family? 

                I have tried for years to get my son and his wife in church. He was like the sinners of this world, but he repented and came to know Jesus. When he attended your Sunday School, they didn’t care what he has become, they tore him apart because he has tattoos. No, they didn’t say it to him directly, but the implication was certainly there … for he and his wife were hurt deeply. Now they are unwilling to go to church any more … and so are we. 

                God bless your church, you need it.

                [The name was signed and a PS added]

                PS – What would Jesus do? How many times has a soul been lost or a potential new member passed by because they did not meet your standards of what your church thinks a Christian should look like or act like? All sinners are potential members of the body of Christ. Aren’t we all sinners?

                Could that be a letter written by someone who has visited with us right here at Lakewood Presbyterian Church?  Read full sermon here (PDF)