Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was about to become the head pastor that morning. He walked around his soon to be, new church for half an hour prior to the morning worship service. Large numbers of people began filing in for the service, only 3 people out of the thousands of attendees looked at him, acknowledging him, greeting him with a hello. He walked about, asking people for change to buy something to eat; NO ONE in the church gave him any money. He went into the sanctuary, sat down in the front and was promptly asked by the ushers to move to the back of the church. He greeted people, saying hello as he was ushered to the back, not one person responded. Only stares and dirty looks were given to him, along with judgmental comments, and snickers as he walked by.
As he sat in the back of the building alone, he listened to all the church announcements and business affairs. When all that was over, the elders went to the pulpit and began a lengthy introduction of the new pastor. The congregation was so excited to meet their new leader. The elders spoke, “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation clapped, standing in honor and giving an exuberant welcome to their Pastor. The homeless man sitting in the back, slowly stood up and began his ascent to the front of the church. The clapping stopped and whispers enveloped the sanctuary and everyone’s eyes were glued to the disheveled homeless man. He walked up the altar, took the microphone from the elders, who were aware beforehand of the pastor’s presentation that morning, pausing, then looking around at his new congregants, he began to weep and recited a passage of scripture.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it unto me.’”
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning, the way they had made him feel unwelcome, isolated and ridiculed. They began to weep and hung their heads in shame. He proceeded to tell them, “Today I see a gathering of many people, not a Church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”
He then dismissed service until next week.
Lesson learned: Being a Christian is more than a proclamation, it is the way you live!