When it comes to bars and such, I’m hardly a habitué. But I do know what a bouncer is.
It is his responsibility to make sure the patrons, due to the excessive use of libations, do not get out of hand. If they do, the bouncer removes them, sometimes not so gently, from the premises.

I do enjoy golf, however, and am aware that before Vijay Singh became a star on the professional golf circuit, he moonlighted as a bar bouncer to supplement his meager income.

He no longer has to worry about that, having won more than $67 million during his career, including the 2008 FedEx Cup worth $10 million.

Brings to mind a short conversation between Jesus and his disciple, John, who said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us.”

God’s bouncers. I can just hear John, can’t you?

“We don’t want no trouble round here, padnuh, so we’re going to have to ask you to cease and desist.” Wasn’t Jesus fortunate to have his disciples looking out for his best interests?

That’s the way we used to do church. Ministry was largely a matter of determining the rules by which we would operate, then seeing that the rules were kept.

I once studied the history of the church I was serving in preparation for a new member class.

Several decades before, a woman was “churched” (i.e., disfellowshipped from the congregation) for having left town in the company of a “married gentleman.” It struck me that she was punished while he remained a gentleman. Evidently, the same rules did not apply equitably to everyone.

As I enter the twilight of my ministry, it dawns on me that we’ve raised up a generation of young people who aren’t concerned about the rules to which we’ve spent a lifetime adhering.

If you are involved in church, how many people come to your church who do not bother to walk the aisle and cast their membership with you?

They may be quite involved in what you are doing, but they haven’t made their presence “official.” Being a church member just isn’t important to them.

Young people these days don’t seem to be as concerned about gender relationships as we older folk are.

In fact, they’re not bothered by a lot of things that garnered our attention, not to mention our commitment and loyalty.

We can complain all we want about their not following our rules, but truth be told, that is simply what they are: our rules. Where is the scriptural justification for such?

I pastor a church that once was largely a neighborhood congregation, filled with young families.

Through the years, this church faithfully served that particular generation of folks, through their empty-nest years, through the period of time they became grandparents, and even to the grave. All the while, the generations that followed got the scraps that fell from the master’s table.

Even our facilities reflect how we cared for them. Our nursery is located in the basement while the parlor – with its plush, light blue carpet (need I say more?) – is situated next to the sanctuary, for easy access, don’t you know.

In a meeting recently, I suggested we change this area to a first-class nursery/preschool facility, and you could just feel the oxygen being sucked out of the room.

Now along come these whippersnappers who want to do things according to their whims, and we don’t know how to handle it.

“Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us.” We resort to protecting our turf and our rules. We’ve become God’s bouncers.

Do you recall Jesus’ response to John?

It appears, on the surface, to be rather tepid, if not patronizing: “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Jesus wasn’t much for rules, was he? Not only that, he doesn’t appear to have had a paranoid bone in his body.

Instead, he had a vision, a vision of what the kingdom could be, present in a rough-and-tumble and ever-changing world.

As generations come and go, as cultures shift and change definitions, the impact of the kingdom is always the same. And whoever is not against the kingdom is for it.

We would do well to remember that the next time we try to clean up the place.

Randy Hyde is senior pastor of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark. His sermon manuscripts appear on EthicsDaily.com.

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