Welcome to Our Church

I once heard a story about a young college student named Bill. Bill had wild hair, spiked with vivid colors, and he wore a nose ring. Bill always wore a T-shirt with holes in it, blue jeans, and no shoes. Bill, a brilliant young man, became a Christian while attending college. He attended a Christian organization on campus, but he also wanted to find a church. Across the street from Bill’s college sat a well-dressed, traditional church.

One Sunday Bill decided to visit that church. He walked into the sanctuary with his nose ring, no shoes, jeans and a T-shirt, and wild hair. The service had already started, so Bill walked down the aisle looking for a seat. But the church was packed, and he could not find a seat anywhere. By now people were uncomfortable, but no one said anything. Bill got closer to the front of the church. When he realized there were no seats left, he squatted down and sat in the aisle. Although this was perfectly acceptable behavior at his college fellowship group—trust me—this had never happened before in this church! The tension in the congregation was palpable. The preacher didn’t know what to do so he stood there in silence.

About that time an elderly man, one of the old patriarchs of that church, slowly made his way down the aisle toward Bill. The man, in his eighties, had silver-gray hair and always wore a three-piece suit. He was a godly man—elegant, dignified, traditional, and conservative. As he started walking toward this boy, everyone was saying to themselves: You can’t blame him for what he’s going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid with a nose ring, wild hair, T-shirt and jeans and no shoes, sitting on the church floor? They knew he would banish this kid from the church. The old man walked with a cane, so it took a long time for him to reach the boy. The church was utterly silent except for the clicking of the old man’s cane. All eyes focused on him. Finally the old man reached the boy. He paused a moment, then dropped his cane on the floor. With great difficulty the old man lowered himself and sat down next to the boy. He shook the boy’s hand, said, “Welcome to our church,” and sat with him for the rest of the service.