Sunday’s have always been a popular day to go out for lunch after worship. No matter what restaurant you pick, it will likely be crowded with “church people.”

Now, I would expect that being “church people” we would be some of the nicest folks the waitstaff would have the pleasure of waiting on all week long, that they would be lining up for Sunday detail to serve folks who bring joy to their day and leave amazingly generous tips because of our profound appreciation for their service.

However, I found that I am particularly naive in my expectations. I was appalled to find out that my optimistic “ideal” is far from reality. Truth be known, servers would rather run and hide from us “church people” as we descend upon their establishments on Sundays.

Since we dine out frequently, my fiancé (also a pastor) and I began asking servers the thousand-dollar question: “Are Sundays good days to work? Are church folk nicer to wait on? Do they tip better?”

And the shocking answer 100 percent of the time was an emphatic: “NO! Sundays are the worst! Church people are mean! Tips are not generous. I’d rather not work that shift!”

Church people! What’s up with that? How do we justify that kind of behavior as children of the King? How do we justify going through the motions of Sunday morning worship only to toss it all out on the street when we leave the building?

What was that thing Jesus said? “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Friends, like it or not, we are the representatives of Christ Himself, and believe it or not, people are watching us. If He were here, what would He do? I certainly don’t think He’d be accused of being “mean” or “stingy.” Nor do I think He’d have servers running the other way when He entered an establishment.

Indeed, the only ones who were uncomfortable in His presence were the Pharisees who put on the act of piety in the synagogues and walked around town treating people as lowlifes.

Who, then, are we representing? What kind of witness are we communicating? What are we saying to others when we come from church all dressed up and behave unkindly toward them?

What is the significance of attending church if we don’t honestly seek to live out the principles and virtues that are proclaimed there each week? What is the significance of being a Christian if we don’t honestly seek to live out the faith that Christianity is founded upon?

Jesus says: “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matthew 7:20 NLT).

What are we going to do about that?

I hope and pray we’ll begin to look at ourselves more inwardly to see those places that honestly need transformative anointing by the Spirit of God to bring some holy joy back into our hearts and lives.

Take some prayer time to examine those inner places. And then, as you look into the faces of people, practice seeing in them the face of Jesus Himself. Maybe then we’ll begin to treat those precious ones with the gentle, kind, and loving spirit we’ve been instructed to do. Remember His words: “Love one another.

As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).



The Rev. Lori A. Holstein is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Sharpsville.

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