“Stop the bickering and differences and just follow Jesus”.
These are the words that an elderly man uttered to me during our brief conversation at the beach today – that is, after I turned down his offer to be his girlfriend because I’m “focusing on this”; I point to the book I’m reading, the one I told him was about Jesus. He’s actually impressed I’m a Christian; I’m still not impressed that I’m getting hit on by an old guy, but I’m polite and have a conversation “for such a time as this” – don’t you love Christian clichés?
I told him about a church he should look up and check out, The Brook. Told him that they talk about living more like Christ by following him and living out the Gospel. We talk more about religion, exercise and exchange names – my Spanish name is officially Alessandra…I’ll take it. Then he leaves (Thank you, Lord!).
But his words still resonate with me – stop the differences; follow Jesus. It sounds so easy, but somehow the Church can make it difficult. Non-essential doctrines, legalistic rituals, musical difference, stances on social justice issues. I wonder how many people, in need of the greatest Physician, stay away from churches for those reasons. I wonder how many people see storms when they look at churches instead of a place of refuge and peace. So many issues can separate us as the Body of Christ, and more importantly, keep non-believers on the outside when they see the mess and dissension in religion instead of the hope from the Gospel being displayed.
I said a prayer for Victor, not just that he’d never approach an equally gorgeous (and exceptionally young) woman like myself in such a manner as he did, but more importantly that he’d get plugged into a community in Miami that is putting Jesus on display – not rules, not tradition, and not regulations. Simply, Christ.