Abraham, Cars and a Drunk Man
November 7, 2005
“The pastor is a man of God. He’s a great teacher of the Bible, please come visit our church.” This was Wednesday night while having dinner with a couple of friends. OK, sure. We’ll go.
I decided to have a good attitude. I had listened saturday afternoon to a great sermon by Rob Bell about going to church. High spirits. I’m wondering what I’ll encounter. Mysteriously I’m all positive.
On our way there we encountered this bicycle race and had to find weird alternate ways to get there. We’re late. Doesn’t matter, better late than never.
We make it there and soon as we get out of the car a drunk man walking on the sidewalk says “Where’s the church?” “We don’t know I said, but come look for it with us.” He does!
So Ronald’s walking with us looking for a church in the fourth floor of a bulding. (That’s the name of the guy that was drunk). As soon as we go inside this one building we’re sure it’s church. In the lobby there’s lots of nice people. Smiling. Everyone’s smiling. We ask where the church is and they warmly tell us where to take the elevator. We’re going up. Ronald’s still with us.
We go in. The church band is playing some songs. People are singing. I don’t know why but I’m feeling so positive. I’m feeling it’s such a good sign that before making it to church we get the chance to bring Ronald with us. I mean a stranger who’s been drinking is standing next to us. It’s gonna be great!
While we sing he says to me “I want to be with Jesus. I was a christian for 6 years. I need to get back with Jesus again.” I said the father was already embracing him. The prodigal son hadn’t made it home and the father was already running to kiss and embrace him. Ronal’s crying.
Singing’s over. The pastor comes up and grabs the mike. Those that have come here for the first time stand up. We stand up. People bless us. They pray for us. Smiles and a really honest warm welcome. I’m sure this is a church I like now.
We sit. The pastor starts preaching. He says people in the church have been blessed this week. New jobs. Promotions. A raise. Opportunities.
Turn to Genesis 22. Abraham gives Isaac to God. Won’t you give all you have? Won’t you give your money? The pastor feels that God might be asking this december great things from his people in this church. Some their car. Maybe to some all of their Christmas Bonus. What are we to do? Abraham gave Isaac. What are we to do? Complain? No. Giving in the altar is a blessing. So hey, maybe it’s your house or all your possesions. Give away!
My wife’s starting to get uncomfortable at the long 5 minutes the pastor’s been talking to people about how the sacrifice of Abraham relates to giving money to church. And Ronald (who for me is the important character) gets really pissed off. Drunk-style pissed off! He says “This pastor’s fooling these people. I’m drunk but I know the Bible. He’s foolin’ them. I don’t like this church. I’m leaving.”
I’m hoping the pastor would shut up with all that car-house-bonus-christmas-money talk so that Ronald would stay and listen to the preaching. My hopes are gone. He’s not stopping. He’s all exited about all of this. I leave church with Ronald. My wife’s inside.
Outside I talk to him. I tell him I don’t like this church either but that’s not what’s important. Don’t loose your focus. We came to seek God. Remember you want to get back to Jesus. Yes, yes he says. We pray. Let’s go back inside he says.
We come back inside and all of the church is filling these long papers. They looked like government papers. Ronals picks one up and says “God doesn’t care about these things. God doesn’t need to know all this information about people. I can’t stand this church.” There we go again, I’m leaving church with him again.
We go to the lobby. We buy coffee and eat a sandwich. We talk. While I sit there I can’t believe that this was a man who 25 minutes earlier wanted to go to the front of the church and have people pray for him. It didn’t happen.
I get his phone number. I’ll be calling him and see what happens. I don’t go to church. I’m not sure where to take him or what to do.
Man was I frustrated. I went back upstairs and half-listened to the never ending preaching of a man I wasn’t paying attention to. I have no clue what he said.
Church is over thank God. Our friends come on over. “Did you like it?” “No” says my precious honest wife. We didn’t like it. Thanks, bye.
Money. Money. Does it have to be about money? What would happen to a church that literally asked for no money? I’m sure they’d do fine.
The rest of my sunday wasn’t that cool. I got depressed. I really thought during worship that it was a church I could maybe attend. I can’t stand it that it’s usually so frustrating to go to church. I’m still not sure why I keep going.