Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Never Again...

Who is ready to take a nice long cruise?  There are about 4000 people who would scream "No, don't do it!"  if they heard that question right now.  I have been on three cruises, and I have loved all of them. But, I have to say if I had gone through what the recent cruisers on the Triumph went through, I would probably never step foot on a cruise ship again!  I cannot imagine the things and conditions they had to endure.

I heard one reporter that spoke about getting the pregnant women off first.  I flashed back to my last cruise when I was 22 weeks pregnant with my oldest daughter.  Yikes!  I can honestly say I would have been a basket-case if something like that would have occurred and I was pregnant.

When hearing the stories and the interviews, one thing was apparent... those passengers would never  want to be on a cruise ship again!

Immediately a thought came into my mind.  There are people out there, and I don't just mean a few 4000, but thousands upon thousands, who feel the same way about going to church.  For one reason or another, they never want to step foot in a church...never!  It breaks my heart when I hear these stories or meet someone personally who has endured hardship from a place of worship or other Christians.  Their reasons are valid reasons.  Their hurt or disdain is strong.  They want nothing to do with religion.

I waited tables through high school and college.  And any waitress (especially in the south) will tell you that the worst crowd, without a doubt, is the Sunday church crowd.  I would leave my  church and arrive just in time to change my clothes and done my apron at the local steak house.  I would be smiling and still humming hymns, only to be in tears two hours later.  It never failed.  It could have been the rude lady in her Sunday best whose scowl was terrifying, the man in the suit and tie that threw a chair at my friend simply because she asked him to move his chair so he wouldn't block the fire exit, the large table that only left me a tract instead of an actual tip, and the lists of stories that made me cry on Sundays goes on and on and on.  Only after I finished crying would I be bombarded by the waitresses that were not believers asking me, "How can they do this?  Why do they act like this? What makes them think they are better than me?"  My heart literally broke into pieces every Sunday.  And I would stand speechless, not knowing myself how they could leave church and then treat us that way!  I am not saying it was every family...but I can tell you in all honesty, it was the majority!

Those experiences make any waitress never want to step foot in a church.  And there are so many  stories out there where the bottom line is simple...stay away from anybody and anything church related.  There may have been hurt feelings, misunderstandings, or wrong perceptions that occurred long ago, but the wounds are still open causing the "never again" syndrome.    Just like that that cruise has left a bad taste in the mouth of its passengers, a run-in with a rude Christian can leave a bad taste in the mouth of an unbeliever.

What can we as Christians do to prevent this?  What can we do to change minds?

I will never be able to change everybody's mind...but I can simply tell my story when the opportunity presents itself.  Explain what God's love means to us and that His forgiveness is for everybody.  No Christian is perfect, and we will hurt each other, but we try our best.  I keep a smile when I am out and  even when someone is rude.  I am nice to my waitress, my cashier, and the stranger I pass in the grocery store isle. (Even when I don't always feel like being nice!)  I can share how I have been hurt by other Christians also... and there have been times I have hurt others myself.  But through the hurt I keep serving God because He has given me everything!

I feel horrible for the people on that cruise, but thankfully they are home.  But my heart breaks more for those who never want to be associated with church.  Let's do our best to not be a part of causing the "never again" syndrome in those we come in contact with! 

Today's Verse
Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

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