Driving on the southwest side of Columbus, Ohio in August of 2005, I was struck by the following sign advertising services for the CrossLink Community Church.
Alright don't worry, I'm fine. I wasn't actually struck by the sign. But it did make a big impression on me.
It's not something anyone ever talks about, but churches do tend to attract some unattractive people. Even if you're just gross and ugly and can't get a date with a dog even while wearing a pork chop necklace, church folks will still socialize with you. Hey, they pretty much have to accept anybody. Not to speak for any other religion, but that's probably one of the better points of the Christian churches I grew up in. They're a haven of acceptance for the socially inept.
But it struck me odd that a church would actually publicly acknowledge this, much less absolutely advertise it like this. Basic Christian agape would seem to prescribe a kind of polite discretion. "Hey, are you so gross and fat that you couldn't get a date with a crack whore while carrying a $100 rock? Come see us, we'll still accept you." That doesn't seem very nice. That would seem to be rubbing our ugly faces in it- not particularly a good act of Christian charity.
Talking about this oddity with my godson's Mama, she immediately went another direction with it. It has to be some kind of thing about us ALL being ugly with sin, and we love sinners.
Going to their church website seems to confirm this, as they are advertising "two chances each weekend in September to find out why we're all ugly."
See, says Mama, that WAS it. They were just making that quote for shock value to get your attention.
They certainly did accomplish that. But that shock value depended precisely on the indiscreet acknowledgement of that hurtful truth that I originally took out of it.
That's all there is to this humble little essay. I don't have any Deep Theological Insights here. It just struck me as curious strategery.
GOD AND COUNTRY Notes on God and Man and Law