Disguise, Distraction Or Simply Disgusting?
“If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”
“Hannah and Her Sisters”
I thought I had heard it all! I thought every single despicable act that man is capable of has reached me one way or another, especially since some call me the “Queen of the Internet” because of the way I use that very thing to share my take about faith and God as I travel the road He has seen fit to place my feet upon. Then, suddenly, something jumps up, rearing its ugly, bigoted “wolf in sheep’s clothing” head, under the guise of something which benefits the good of the many (supposedly). Suddenly, I get hot under the collar, steam spewing forth from my ears, and my first thought is a decidedly unChristian one! Lord, help me, I guess I still have a LONG way to go as a person of faith. But I digress…..I will leave the conclusions up to you, as I go and say a prayer for not only one young boy, but a congregation of perhaps the least Christ filled hearts I have come across in recent days (yes, I once thought that honor belonged to the Westboro Baptist Church group, but now I am not so sure), and myself, as well, for being so weak as to react first, instead of forgiving first!
Matthews, NC, population 27,198 according to the 2010 Census. Matthews is also a suburb of Charlotte and perhaps 3 or 4 hours from where I live in South Carolina. And it may well be an area that is considered by some to be the birthplace of what we refer to as the Southern Baptist movement. AND, Matthews is also the home of Elevation Church, a Southern Baptist “mega church” which was founded by Pastor Steven Furtick, in 2006, and which has grown to seven locations in North Carolina with a congregation of somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 attendees every week!
Here is what happened, as excerpted from a posting by Chaplain Mike from the “Internet Monk”. (To read his entire post, you can visit:
And, by the way, this story was also reported by television station WSOC-TV, Charlotte, North Carolina, but since it occurred in 2011, the video and report are no longer accessible!
It finally happened. A church asked Jesus to leave the sanctuary during a worship service because he was being a “distraction.”
Jesus was attending Elevation Church in Matthews, NC in the distressing disguise of a little twelve-year-old boy with cerebral palsy named Jackson. Jackson excitedly got all dressed up for Easter worship and went to the service with his mom. After the opening prayer, the boy reportedly voiced his own unique “Amen” and a church volunteer approached them and, in the mother’s words, “very abruptly escorted us out.” They were taken out to the lobby to view the rest of the service from there.
The church issued the following statement: “It is our goal at Elevation to offer a distraction free environment for all our guests.” Now there is a statement that screams for cultural exegesis.
Elevation Church, led by Steven Furtick, markets itself in these words: “Elevation Church has a passion to see those far from God filled with life in Christ. It’s an explosive, phenomenal movement of God “ something you have to see to believe.” Apparently “explosive, phenomenal movements of God” have no room for Jesus in his distressing disguises like little boys with special needs who don’t know how to follow the script. Wouldn’t want someone like that to “distract” the worshipers, you know.
I’ll be frank. I’m so mad about this I could spit. If such an incident isn’t the ultimate indictment of what’s happening in the evangelical world of entertainment worship and style over substance, I don’t know what could be.
Those whom our culture labels a distraction, Jesus calls recipients of his kingdom. That should make us pause.
How is it possible we have strayed so far from Christ’s message that we not only find ourselves able to justify behavior such as this, but honestly not see the wrongness of it? How many times in the “Good Book” is this behavior condemned. A hundred? A thousand? Proverbs 14:31, NIV, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” How about this verse! Hebrews 2:11, NIV, “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Not quite clear? How about Matthew 25:39-41, NIV, “Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…”
It is my fervent hope that this mother was able to repair any damage that may have been done to the sense of self of this young man. It is also my fervent hope that the backlash to the church may have cost it something, including the need to undergo not just sensitivity training but to explore the diversity of what constitutes those who celebrate Christianity. As for me, it taught me how far I have yet to travel along my very own road of faith!
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:11-12 NIV
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