After graduating college with a degree in Journalism, we all went our ways out into the world. A friend went to a small newspaper in a very small town in Oregon. She knew she’d be better welcomed if she bought a car there, rather than flaunting California license plates, or tags as we say in Georgia. I heard from her some months later. Indeed, she was well welcomed in that town. People would stop and talk to her on the street, in stores, any where she went. Once. After the first encounter, the person would snub her upon second meeting. She said the first “welcoming” was more of an interview. And she didn’t pass the test. Eventually she moved home to her own small California town.
Molly Simpson, in her post Emotional Abuse and the Church, speaks about the way some folks feel abused in their own churches. She offers great insight to folks in dealing with such abuse, while sparing criticism of the churches themselves.
There’s a story that is said to have taken place back during the “Jesus” movement of the early 1970s. There were a lot of young folks coming to home churches where they didn’t sit in pews and wear Sunday-go-to-meeting cloths. One day a fellow accustom to such home church groups saw people heading into Sunday service at a large, traditional church. He thought about going, made up his mind to do so, and headed up the steps. The congregation was seated, and it was a full house. With no seats left, he sauntered up the aisle in his flip-flop sandals clapping. When he got to the front, he simply sat cross-legged on the floor. So. You can imagine the reaction of the congregation. They were simple aghast. Soon an usher, dressed in a three-piece suit and well-polished shoes, came up the aisle toward the disheveled young man. The faces of the congregation said it all. “That’s right. Toss that fellow oughta here!” To the amazement of the congregation, the usher came up to the young man, sat down next to him, and crossed his legs, too.
Molly points out, “referring to Galatians 5:14, “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Every time someone approaches us, we have the opportunity to love them as Christ did.” That’s what the usher did. That’s not what the people of that small town did when they “welcomed” my friend and reporter. That was a false love. For love, as Molly also points out, calls for us to carry the burdens of our brothers and sisters.