A number of years ago (probably 1988 or ’89) I met a young man who was living a hopeless life. He had relational problems, drug problems, employment problems and financial problems. I saw these problems and recognized them for what they were and I further discerned what the cure would be. He needed a Savior.
I began to tell him about the Savior. He was interested. He was so interested that he accepted my invitation to come to the church meeting. I picked him up. On the way to the meeting he asked me if he could smoke a cigarette in my brand new Buick LeSabre. I told him that he could not. (You see, this was the Lord’s car and I wasn’t going to have it tainted by some unbeliever who craved cigarettes.)
We arrived at the church meeting and as we approached the church building he asked me if he could smoke before he entered in. Because of his persistence and my fear that he would light up inside the building I told him he could and what transpired afterward was one of my most embarrassing moments of my early Christian life.
I stood on the sidewalk of that church building beside my new friend and the only thought I had in my head was what does this look like as my fellow church friends are filing by me and I’m standing here with this pagan who is smoking a cigarette. I was humiliated. I did not want to be seen with him in this context. I didn’t mind talking to him in his world (the trailer park), but not in my world where clean, middle-American, white people lived.
This story may or may not relate to you, I don’t know. But I relate to it and it tethers me to the disciples who, in Mark 10:13-16, are still struggling with the same arrogant, self-important attitude that puts them in direct opposition to the Savior.
The issue several years ago with me was not about my pagan friend or his cigarette smoking. The issue was that I had no clue about what the Savior appreciated and what the Savior was looking at. I was so concerned with my friends and what they thought about me that I could not see the yearning Savior who targets the hearts of people like my pagan friend and has little concern with societal expectations.