At times in life, it’s beneficial to look beyond issues that will eventually pass and search for purposes which have eternal connotation. Indeed, there are daily quandaries needing addressed, but not forgetting that Jesus called Christians to be a “light unto the world.”

I was driving home from church last Sunday, when scanning the radio, I came upon a pastor whose message dealt with the obstacle of “religion” in society. He was relaying a story about an incident in their sanctuary, years before becoming a much larger church.

“We were a much smaller church at that time, probably around 150 members,” the pastor said. “At that size, we pretty much knew everyone, so it was easy to recognize a visitor. I recall during my message, one morning, a young man entered the back of the building, a bit disheveled, pants drooping, wearing a ball cap turned sideways.” The pastor perceived this young man had entered the sanctuary with some trepidation, maybe even some fear.

He continued. “When the music began and everyone stood to worship, the young man initially didn’t stand. He seemed uncomfortable and out of place. But, eventually he stood with the others.”

A few minutes into the singing, the pastor said he saw an usher approach the young man, which made him feel good. He had hoped someone would reach out to make him feel comfortable. After watching a brief interaction between the visitor and the usher, he was puzzled to see the man, with a discouraged look on his face, turn and leave.

After service, he was anxious to learn what had happened. He was burdened for the lost and was disappointed the young man had left. As he approached the rear of the church, he inquired of a friend, who had been near enough to hear the conversation, what had happened.

His friend told him the usher had said, “Excuse me, but I’m going to have to ask you to remove your hat.” The young man didn’t understand. He asked, “Why?” The usher responded, “Because you’re in a house of worship and it isn’t respectful.”

The pastor was heartbroken.

I was moved by this story. I was angry at the usher and hurt for the young man who had likely entered the church seeking hope and maybe a friend. He’d taken a step of faith toward a new life, but was coldly stripped of the opportunity – because of a hat.

In Mark, Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

How many souls have we kept from Heaven because they didn’t “meet our requirements”? How many sinners seeking the Truth have been rejected by manufactured doctrine?

We’re not called to judge and narrow the path to righteousness. We’re called to share the Gospel.

 Jesus loves this young man so much, he died for him.
Let God change their lives!

So, is your church door open to all, or only those who pass inspection?

I pray God will help us see people through His eyes – not our own.


Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.