My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. - James 2:1

The tent was erected in a park downtown in a city in northern California. It was to be an event of worship. The tent was open during the day for people to enter and praise the Lord. There would be speakers and music in the evening, commencing with a parade for Jesus the next day.

As a man approached the tent, he was greeted by one of the workers. “Are you coming to worship the Lord?” she asked cheerfully.

With his arm wrapped around a Bible, he looked at her with disdain and answered arrogantly, “Of course I have come to worship the Lord!” Then he stomped off into the tent in his expensive, shiny polished shoes.

Shortly after that, my husband and I encountered a street man nearby. He was very sick and coughing. He asked us what the tent was for and we told him. He said that he was a Christian, but had fallen away, enslaved now by his addiction to alcohol. He confessed to us his regret, his weakness and grief over the mess he had made of his life.

We asked him if he would like to come into the tent for a while. “Yes,” he said. He wanted to come to a place where people were worshipping the Lord.

He was following us into the tent, but as I came inside and looked behind me, he wasn’t there. I went back into the foyer and saw that he was sitting in a chair by the entrance. He had been intercepted by several of the workers who refused to let him into the “sanctuary.” One of the pastors prayed for him, but that was as far as it was going to go. He was deemed by those in charge as being not worthy enough to enter into the presence of the Lord.

I was told by one of the staff members that in some cities they would have people guarding the doors to keep the street people from coming inside to find shelter.

I thought of the arrogant, prideful man in the shiny shoes who had no problem coming into that tent of worship, and the ragged,repentant, sorrowful street man with the soiled, shoddy shoes who was not permitted to enter what these people had esteemed as holy.

Man judges the outward appearance, but God sees the hearts (I Samuel 16:7).

I wondered if the God who has called us to serve “The Least of These” was pleased with the worship of those who were appointed to guard the doors of His sanctuary.

The sky was slowly turning to gray. They were praying that it would not rain on the day of the parade in Jesus’ honor. I knew that it would, and it did; for the Lord could not refrain from weeping.

Copyright 2006 by H.D. Shively

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