Diane and I were blessed to meet a lady yesterday who has been making an impact on the homeless in Cumberland, MD for 50 years. In 1963 she and her husband opened the Union Rescue Mission. Her husband died and her son now leads the mission. They serve 3 meals a day – 7 days a week. They have a 60 bed shelter. She said something yesterday that put me on this thought process about being who we claim to be as Christians.
I remember when I was young my dad would take us to Atlanta to visit my uncle, who was a doctor. My uncle would not allow smoking in his house and my dad (who was a heavy smoker) thought he could smoke in the bathroom and nobody would know. It was obvious to everyone when he had been smoking in the house. I have never been a smoker and as a non smoker I can smell cigarette smoke at a red light if the person in the car in front of me is smoking (if we both have our windows down)! A non-smoker can sniff out cigarette smoke pretty easy.
This morning I have been thinking about when Diane and I were sent to Mason, WV to pastor our first church. I told them from the start that even though I was in Marshall Thundering Herd territory, that I was a WVU Mountaineer fan and I would make no apologies about that fact.
As the United Methodist Church prepared pastors to move to new churches a few months ago, they said one of them main things the congregation must see in me is authenticity. Being that I care deeply about missions, the people of Wesley Chapel saw in the first month that I am who I claim to be when I left for a week to serve on Long Island. They will know I am who I claim to be when I ask them to go with me to feed the homeless in Cumberland, just as the people of the last church did when we went to feed the homeless in Huntington.
As a pastor and follower of Jesus, I just want to be who I claim to be, flaws and all. Otherwise, I cannot lead a church. And I certainly don’t claim perfection (and I don’t need an Amen from my wife or my former church). There’s no sense trying to say one thing and do another. People can sniff out a phony a mile away.