Minister goes Undercover in the UK

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgemental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road

Jesus payed much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ. — From “If We are the Body” by Casting Crowns

According to this story, “Priest disguises himself as a tramp to teach his own churchgoers a lesson.”

A Methodist minister in the UK dressed up as a homeless person (he “bought some scruffy clothes at a charity shop, ripped the trousers, and put on a straggly wig and thick, broken glasses” and “splashed lager” all over himself”) and stepped into his church and perhaps to no one’s surprise (given the comments at the bottom of the piece), none of his congregants recognized him, judgmental and condescending people that Christians are, especially the lot that attends church services.

At the risk of sounding like noted Christian toxicologists, there is much work to be done within the Church as to how we perceive people who look and smell differently. Given our penchant for the theology of “our Sunday best”, this flock’s reaction might be replayed in many an American (most definitely Mexican) church service (perhaps this drove the Casting Crowns lyric).

The perhaps pathological focus on dress and outward appearance is surprising to me, especially when the average churchgoer (who might or might not be a genuine Christian, remember attendance, even perfect attendance does not a Christian make) is completely oblivious to any serious understanding of doctrine and thus its application.

Never mind the frequent mention in Scripture of the relative unimportance of the external in the face of the internal in relation to worship of our Lord. We must be careful not to mistake cultural norms and/or conventions for Biblical expectation of those who have been purchased with the blood of Christ.

A foray down that path has the great potential to arrive at the gates of legalism and will lead to disdain for others (fellow Christians or not) who do not share the same norms in regards to outward appearance and/or presentation. All fueled by this desire to seat personal preference in the seat that rightfully belongs to God’s revealed will.

According to the story the minister’s motivation was to,

remind the congregation about a passage in the Bible when Jesus’ disciples failing to recognise him because of the way he was dressed.

Is he talking about the events on road to Emmaus as recorded in Luke 24:13-35? If so, I was not aware that Jesus’ threads were the reason they didn’t recognize Him, rather

they were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:16)

I’m guessing by God Himself not by Jesus’ clothes.

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One Response to Minister goes Undercover in the UK

  1. “Never mind the frequent mention in Scripture of the relative unimportance of the external in the face of the internal in relation to worship of our Lord”

    Not to mention it is also relative. Most who insist on dressing up for church in a suit and tie reference scriptures that discuss giving your best (the first fruits) to the Lord. Sadly, they forget that the definition of best is linked to the person. Can we forget Christ’s parable of the widow’s mite?

    I am beginning to wonder if there is anyway each of us can give God our best without being caught up in the jealousy and condescension that is all too much a part of our fallen nature.

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