Today after our circuit meeting with our local pastors a group of us guys went out to eat, which happened to be next door to a cigar shop. In my past I have enjoyed a good cigar or two and a few cloves with the guys. It has been a few years since my visit to a cigar shop, so we decided to stop bye. It was like entering a different world. Cigars and cigarettes everywhere, the scent of smoke you smell in an old bowling alley, and a group of guys at a bar in the middle of the day enjoying their favorite cigar. No bones about it, this was a cigar shop. We were welcomed with open arms, showed the array of cigars, and a wall of fame of famous people who had smoked there. As I left, I remember a feeling of being uncomfortable in a setting I do not normally frequent, however, their was a unique comfort of knowing that they did not try to hide their identity: smoking and fellowship.
In the church today, there is a HUGE amount of pressure to be "seeker" sensitive, welcoming, and changing to fit the ideals of the world. In essence, to not look like church, sneak Jesus in later, and before you know it, people become Christian.
What was refreshing about this cigar shop was they did not try to act like something they weren't. If they wanted to be seeker sensitive, they would hide the cigars in the back room and offer healthy snacks in the front. They would have the nicest guys stand at the door and talk about how they are not like your normal cigar shop that only offers unhealthy cigars or tries to sell the old brands. And they would have signs everywhere that never said the word Cigar/smoke/or clove, so people would feel better about entering. Then after a few weeks of visiting, they would bring out the cigars and people would feel more comfortable with taking a few puffs. Great plan.
I think we all know people would see right through that and dislike being used as an object to be fooled with. In Christendom, many churches use the same methods. Hide Jesus, tell people you are not like the other churches, and make signs that do not mention our theological beliefs (especially not our denomination).
The Scriptures couldn't disagree (ergo God) more. Jesus continually tells his disciples to be His witnesses, to preach repentance, make disciples, and be a city on a hill. Not to fool people to Jesus, but making him the center. Not making confusing signs without our theological convictions or hiding Jesus, but making His atoning work and forgiveness at the forefront.
May we be bold to show Christ and His work in all we do in church and not be ashamed of it.