During my early high school years, I worked in a fast-food restaurant. One day when I walked into work my boss handed me a rag and a big bottle of carpet cleaner. I quickly discovered that some of South Carolina’s famous red mud was staining the carpet in the dining room. A construction crew that had been building a new business next door, had tracked in mud on their work boots. After working on the carpet for nearly an hour, I suggested that my boss go over to the construction site and kindly ask the workers to clean their feet before entering our restaurant. I remember his reply: “That crew and others will be working next door for months. They have the potential to be good customers while they are working close by. They won’t track mud in forever, eventually the building will be dried in and their boots will be cleaner.”
Fast forward 15 years. One day a man asked to meet me in my office and we set up a time and he came by. After talking for a while, he realized his need to repent of his sin and be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. He prayed that day and received forgiveness of his sin through the blood-stained cross of Jesus. When he left that day, I noticed mud on the floor of my office and the church hallway. I went to the custodian’s closet and grabbed a rag and a bottle of carpet cleaner. As I cleaned the carpet, I was too overjoyed that my friend had moved from death to life to be upset that the church carpet was stained.
I have watched my friend grow in his relationship with Christ through the years and I have seen God clean up areas of his life that once were controlled by Satan. This has been a slow process because even as an adult he had no understanding of the truths taught in Scripture. He became a child of God instantly but becoming a man of God has been a slower process.
Have you ever asked why the Church is struggling to effectively engage our post-Christian culture? Do you think that it is possible that some Christians are so concerned with being keepers of the facilities and guardians of tradition that they forget that we are called to be fishers of men? A day that I go fishing and come home with clean hands and a clean boat isn’t a good day on the lake or river. Catching fish leaves a smell on my hands and stains on the carpet of my boat, but that’s why I bought the boat to begin with.
Why do we build structures that we call churches? To keep them clean and smelling good or to minister to people who are dirty inside and maybe outside? Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Perhaps the Church needs to keep in mind that our hope is found in a dirty blood-stained cross and we shouldn’t get too upset when the carpet gets a stain or somebody misses the unwritten “code of church manners” when they worship with us.
Is it possible that we are more concerned with our facilities and personal preferences than rescuing the perishing? Is it possible that we only want to reach people who already know how to fit in to “our” church and follow “our” traditions? Well, if it takes cleaning mud-stained carpet to tell someone about the hope found in the blood-stained cross, then hand me a bottle of cleaner and a rag because I’m in!