Growing up in the southeastern part of the United States, I heard the term “back row Baptist” more than a few times. It was said as an insult to people who either show up late to church and leave early or about someone who simply comes to church out of obligation instead of worship. For some reason this statement has been on my mind all morning, and the more I think about it, the more it bothers me.
As believers in Christ, we are called to spread the love of God to our brothers and sisters in the world. Our job as Christians is not to judge them because their timing is a little off or which pew they choose to sit in, but to be thankful that they came to church in the first place. To encourage them to grow in their knowledge of the bible and their understanding of the love of God.
I have so many friends and family members that desperately need to hear the gospel, yet refuse to set foot in a church. When I ask them why they don’t come, the answer is almost unanimous, they feel judged by the people in the church. They feel like they don’t measure up to the standard that we have put on what a Christian should look and act like. They feel like they don’t fit in. That’s not on them, that’s on us.
We are the true “back row believers”. We have, like the Pharisees, rejected the commandment of God in order to establish our own traditions (Mark 7:9). We have rejected the new commandment from Jesus to love one another (John 13:34). Jesus followed this new commandment with the statement, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35). People will know us by our love. Not by the way we dress, the way we talk, or where we sit, but by our love for one another.
This Sunday when you walk into your church, take a seat in the back a have a look around. Does your congregation look like it would welcome people “from every nation, from all tribes”? (Revelation 7:9). Or is it a “cookie cutter” congregation, where everyone looks the same. Jesus has called us to reach the world. Not just the part of the world that looks and talks like us, the entire world.
“Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly,” (Romans 12:16 ESV).
We are called to live in unity through love in Christ Jesus to the glory of God. This is not an option. “For God shows no partiality, ” (Romans 2:11 ESV).
God shows no partiality, Jesus has no favorites, and neither can we. We must love all with the same love that was shown to us through Jesus Christ. Anything short of this is sin.
Today I encourage you to stop and look in the mirror. Take a good, hard, long look at yourself. Now, go find someone that looks completely different and tell them you love them. Tell them God loves them and Jesus died for their sins just as He did for yours. Then invite them to church. Because at the end of the day, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-34 ESV).
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).