I know this is probably not a shocking revelation for anyone of the Christian faith, but we are far from perfect people. As a youth minister I like to think that I can avoid sinning at least while I’m in the middle of worship, but unfortunately I’m still a sinner even when I’m singing praises to my King. This is a short little story about how I put my own desires before others and for a moment thought I was more deserving of God than someone else.
It started as a fairly normal Sunday morning sermon but sitting behind me was a family that I had never seen before. It was what appeared to be a father and daughter, though I didn’t talk to them any more than the formal “Welcome, we’re glad to have you here” handshake. It quickly became apparent to me that the daughter was mentally handicapped in some form or another. I’ve worked with mentally handicapped people before, but this might have been the first time I’ve sat near one of them during a sermon. I really didn’t think too much of it until the music started and everyone rose up to begin singing.
That was when the young girl behind me began to scream out the music in the most off-key and distracting voice. The father was clearly embarrassed and so I did the polite thing and faced forwards so as not to make eye contact. My goal was to focus on worship and try to pretend that this horrid screaming wasn’t happening just one pew behind me. The father of the young girl did successfully silence her with a calm shush every few minutes, but then the girl would get excited all over again and start screaming the words to the hymns as loud as she could.
I can’t remember a time when I was more distracted in a church service. I became agitated and I started to wonder why the father was not excusing himself and his daughter out of the building so that people who came to worship could do so in peace. I was experiencing the same frustration here that I would have experienced in a movie theatre with that strange couple that always decides to bring their crying baby with them. In my mind she was inconveniencing me and so I began a prayer asking God to remove this “distraction” so others could worship in peace.
Let me tell you about conviction! God spoke to me before I even finished that thought and made me feel like dirt. “What you call a distraction is more beautiful to me than the most beautiful hymn, I created that girl’s voice and she is using it to worship me. Don’t think I share your pettiness in thinking that my house is for your comfort. Let the girl worship.” God humbled me then and there and when the next song picked up those screams of praise to the King of Kings seemed to me much less distracting and a great deal more beautiful.
As much as I might like to roll my eyes at the Pharisees in the Gospel accounts for how much they missed the point entirely, I’m just as guilty as they are. I’m no better than the Pharisees who looked down upon the poor widow with two coins or the Disciples who tried to keep the children away from Christ. I had become so entitled and stuck in my ways that I had the nerve to think that God preferred my dry baritone hymn chanting to the boisterous worship of girl who could not help herself from singing praises to the Lord.
If there is a point to this post it is this: Learn from my mistake and do not suppose that God sees other people as you do. What we may deem ugly, dirty, noisy, and broken, God may see as beautiful. It is my prayer that we all could learn to have the patience, the love, and the wisdom needed to see others as God sees them. Peace to you all.