I had someone tell me that my oldest boy was a really great kid. Why thank you, as a Mom he's almost perfect. :0) Then he proceeded to tell me that based on how he looks, he probably wouldn't have ever taken the time to know him....based on how he looks. This person is a christian and it's sad to think that many people judge us christians based on everyone that goes to church.
I had someone else ask me if my son was saved. I responded yes, his heart is on fire for God, there isn't a lot of gray with him, it's God's way or it aint. They said, what about his lip ring, what does the people at your church say about that. I told her that they were okay with it. She's been in a lot of churches where she did not fit their mold even though she loves the Lord wholeheartedly.
God brought into my remembrance that what I told her wasn't actually the truth. That the truth was there were some that questioned my son and his decision. They determined he was rebellious based on his outward appearance and never bothered to actually ask any of us what the deal was. My heart breaks when those who know us can so easily pass judgement without asking. How can we ever really love those outside the church when we can't do that in the church.
Jesus said they will know us by our love. His disciples were a group of people who were at odds with each other as far as social status, jobs, etc... They really didn't have anything in common except Christ. The early church had a hodgepodge of people from all over, nothing in common other than Christ. They not only lived and loved together, they thrived. I yearn for the day that all people can come to Christ and come to church just as they are, fully excepted, not judged if they don't change to become like everyone else. The model that Jesus left us was a group of individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. He didn't make them cut their hair, wear suits and only talk with "those" in the group/church.
As the world spins along faster and faster, as right is called wrong and wrong is called right. I pray that the church wakes up and starts sharing the good news. The good news that we are all on the same level, we are all sinners, that we can be delivered ~ but we still sin. Your sin is not greater than my sin, we both need grace and forgiveness from God and from each other. The sad thing is that some days I look at myself and see the religious leaders of Jesus's day. I look at the church and see the religious leaders of Jesus's day. Oh, that we would shake off those traditions and chains that keep us in bondage to the way things have always been done. Because honestly, I don't think this is the church that Christ had in mind when he picked out his disciples and picked up his cross.