Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” – 1 Kings 17:17-18 (NIV)
I don’t wear a clerical collar very often. I mostly wear them at the state house, or at Black Lives Matter marches, or at protests. Basically, when I want to be a public embodiment of the moral witness of the church.
But as soon as a legislative hearing is over or a march has disbanded, I take off the collar. I don’t ride the bus wearing it. I don’t go to lunch wearing it. I take it off.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you don’t wear your church t-shirt when you go volunteer at the shelter. Maybe you don’t get into a biblical tête-à-tête with the uncle who is sure that he knows exactly who God hates. Maybe you find a way to stay quiet, when speaking up would be the braver thing. Maybe you’re like me—afraid.
I’m afraid that, like Elijah, I’ll be confronted by someone who was hurt by the church. I’m afraid I’ll be confronted by someone demanding I give them some answers about what they ever did to deserve such rotten treatment from the people of God.
And there are no such answers.
But that doesn’t exempt me from having to face the questions. Being a Christian means representing Christ—the good and the bad.
This isn’t so much a devotion as a confession. I’m going to do better. Will you join me?
God, help me to represent you with bravery and humility in the world.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.