Don’t know how to title this. Today was the first day since leaving church that I went shopping at a time and in a place where I would probably meet people from church. What an odd situation! Where before when I shopped I felt I needed to watch for people to witness to, today all I had to do is smile! I smiled because I wanted the Apostolics to know I wasn’t ashamed or sad about leaving. I smiled because I was simply happy to be out. And because I got some really good deals.
Generally when I went out as an Apostolic, I didn’t notice people around me. Today I did. I heard their conversations and I saw how people interacted. No one in the store was Apostolic at first. Then a whole bunch showed up at once. One walked by me repeatedly, talking loudly on her cell, “In Jesus name!” “Uh-huh! My, my! Momma, you gotta come by later!” “Oooh, sis!” “God bless!” She seemed so dramatic and rude. She pushed by people, and walked around and around people without ever acknowledging them.
On the other side of the store, I heard two sisters talking. I had almost walked up to them without seeing who they were, but then they got pretty loud. I looked closer-sure enough, Apostolics! Another few walked past without acknowledging me (or anyone else). Several of them would have previously considered themselves my friends. Today I was embarrassed for them.
As I prepared to leave, one of the Apostolics came up to me. I doubt she knows I’ve quit, but whether she does or doesn’t, she quietly talked to me about this and that item, smiled and wished me a good day.
I wonder if any of them know that their unfriendliness while I was in was part of the first clue that I should leave? I wonder how many “backsliders” they have pushed away in rudeness when they could have done the Christian thing and reached out in love? How many “sinners” in that store saw them today more as I did, as embarrassing, loud, and inconsiderate? How many people hear their coded cell phone talk and turn away in disgust, while they actually think all their “Jesus name!” “God bless!” on their cells or in person is a form of witnessing or “not being ashamed of Jesus”?
I haven’t seen that many Pentecostals in one place since I left. It was sad to see them all together today, not because they rejected me but because they were projecting a totally wrong image of themselves to the “world” they talk so grandly about winning. And I’m convinced they felt they were doing the right thing, or had no idea that there might be a better way.