Overheard this piece of conversation between an elderly couple as I was sitting outside my church yesterday… (for obvious reason, it has been edited to a “readable” length)
Man: (pointing to the entrance of my church) Do you know what is this place?
Man: It is a church!! And they have Cisco (actually it is AETOS) guarding the place!!
Wife: What kind of church is this? I thought church should be a peaceful place and they are having armed security guards? They think they are in Afghanistan or what…?
The conversation continued…
Wife: Look at the decoration. The place must have cost a lot of money…
Man: Didn’t you know? Churches are very rich!!
Wife: Ya, I heard that people must give 10% of their pay to the church. If it was me, I would give the 10% to old folks home. Give to the church for what?
Man: I wonder if this is the one that the pastor’s wife is a singer….??? (it is not.)
Wife: Their followers are so stupid to give their money away!!
The conversation continued still…
Man: I wonder what are they doing inside? Music so loud…
Wife: Oh, I wrent to my friend’s church and they are also playing loud music, like some kind of a rock concert. I thought church music should be solemn. This must be some kind of a cult. Oh… some of them even kneeled on the floor and pray (no we don’t do that), so scary. I would never step into a church again!!
Honestly I was very tempted to “educate” them on the spot, but at that moment I suddenly remembered something Jesus said:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24)
Jesus was still pleading with God to forgive the Roman soldiers even as they had just cruelly whipped and scouged Him, even as they were taking off His garments to divide amongst themselves, even as they were soon to crucify Him.
I realized, in that moment, I was overtaken by a sense of self-righteousness and had forgotten that I was once like them, ignorant of the things of the Christian faith and frequently making snide remarks about churches and Christians .
I ended up saying a quiet prayer for the couple, praying that God would open their hearts towards Him and received His salvation. Who knows? Maybe they might even end up as part of our congregation one day.