“This morning I hired a prostitute,” the man said.
That caused an uncomfortable rustle. An uneasy tension filled the room. The preacher on the stage continued, “She was hitchhiking, so I picked her up and told her how dangerous that is. Turns out she wasn’t hitching at all, just advertising.”
LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION OR KEEP READING
The sanctuary was full that morning as more and more followers have grown the congregation. If business kept up that way, they’d have to add services to turn over the seats and move crowds in and out each Sunday, or build a bigger place. The reverend was against that big time. He said anything of the sort is way too big of a distraction. All the fund raising, land buying, architects, contractors, and the worst of it all, building committees lead by elders of the church with nothing better to do but complain. He continued, “Darlene, that’s her name. She’s right up here in the front row, stand up Darlene.”
An attractive young woman in her twenties stood. She was obviously not dressed for church; or hitchhiking. Her tight jeans, high heels, pull over tank top shows a lot of Darlene.
“Darlene will be working in the office. That’s why I hired her. I want you to get to know Darlene as she is an example of a new vision I have for the church.”
The preacher paused and walked a few steps closer to his flock around the podium.
“That vision is just six words. This is easy to remember, and easy to say over and over. Ready?”
Another pause, while the thought of a new vision and a prostitute running the church business all in one Sunday service sinks in. Events such as this may seem like a lot to take in. That is if you do not know the pastor. For a preacher, the man is full of surprises. He takes in a breath, smiles, and announces, our job is to ‘Be Christ like; not just Christian.”
He lets those words hang in the air.
“Be Christ like; not just Christian!”
When he nearly shouts his statement, the voice bounces off the large panes of glass windows, “Just six words. You can handle that. Repeat them with me.”
One old lady in the front row yells back, “Be Christ like, not just Christian.”
She tugged on the tweed lapel of the coat a size or two too big on the old man beside her. He resisted her coaxing to stand up, but he gave in and with a bowed head gave a thumbs up and the woman turned to the members of the small church and shouted out her six words again. She started the contagion and like some gravely cough or sneeze the thing spread back two pews and grew across the sanctuary. When Darlene, the whore, stands with her she lifted her arms in praise and nearly exposed her braw less breasts tucked in her tank top; right there in church as she yelled, “Be Christ like; not just Christian!”
To draw attention away from what many may call temptation the organist jumps in with a hymn called, To Be Like Jesus, and that gets the congregation standing, shouting and singing.
The rally goes on with members chanting; some even moved to the isles to shout and dance waving their arms. Just as the virus had spread the thing retreated and seats were taken with silence once again filling the place with the final notes from the song.
Sunday morning sun beams arch down from the stained glass windows illuminating clouds of dust only seen in that light from above. The preacher smiles in his warmth of success from his new line and sees in the audience a look in the faces of members filled to bursting with stories about sin and salvation, and with the success of the rally still pounding hearts. He gained that special confidence to take it up a notch “Does anyone have anything to share in the ways of testimony this morning”
“Yeah, I can share,” the voice from the last pew turned heads.
A man in a worn brown suit stands. His plaid flannel shirt is buttoned to the top with no tie; his Sunday best. The guy walked up to the podium and before speaking, he lit a cigarette, “I quit last year. But, I started again.”
He takes a long deep inhale on the thing as it burned down near the two fingers holding it. As he exhaled, he crushed the butt out on the surface of the podium. “There you be,” he said, “Quit again.”
The man looks around the church taking in the view and raised his hands mocking praise, “It’s a miracle! I quit again. God saved me and I am free!”
Then he pats his pockets, and shrugs, “No, never mind. I just forgot to buy another pack. Not God at all. You want to be Christ like? That it? Then, listen up. The thing is, God does not care if you decide to kill yourself on your own with bad decisions. That just makes his job easier. Give the angel of death a day off.”
What a strange Sunday morning could be the description on the faces in the crowd; an old farmer smoking in church and a nearly exposed prostitute leading a chant about Jesus. What could be next?
The preacher cleared his throat upon returning to the podium, “I believe what Bother Jones was trying to get at is the reality that we have a choice. To quit or not to quit.”
“Amen!” from a member. “That’s right from another”
Like any good man of the word, the preacher could think fast on his feet and used the old man to tell a story about one of the final things Jesus did, “There came a time for the sermon on the mount. You may have heard about it. But, the key message is all about choice. There’s a lot of stuff that comes before us and demands some action. He said there are only two choices that count. Smart folks at Columbia University did a study that said on average we have about seventy decisions to make everyday. Everyday! That racks up over twenty five thousand a year. Imagine all these decisions and Jesus said we only have two.”
Members look at one another and take in the facts.
“How can that be?” asked the preacher. “How can we get our heads around this and make sense of our mission to be Christ like, and not just Christian?”
Heads nodded in agreement and he continued, “We have to know the answer he gave about choices. He said only two. There’s the wide path where everyone goes and the narrow one that is the harder of the two choices. Only two. Be Christ like, or just be Christian.”