Spiritual Snobbery

‘Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.’
— Matthew 18:10-11

Do people at your church welcome strangers with open arms or spurn them with turned backs? It is tragic that many churches today display “spiritual snobbery,” rejecting those of questionable reputation or faith. And this is so wrong.

This attitude prevailed even in biblical times. In fact, Jesus featured it in one of his parables. In Christ’s parable of the prodigal son, the older brother displayed a smug attitude toward his wayward brother. After the joyous return of the younger brother, who had strayed from his father’s house, the scene quickly changed from joy to jealousy. The brow of the older brother lowered; his face darkened; his lips curled in contempt. Inside, the house was ablaze with light and laughter. The sounds of music echoed the joy of the revelers, while outside a cold silence rested heavily on the fields, broken only by the grumbling of the older brother amid the gathering night.

In a similar way, many Christians today don’t welcome prodigals into their circles. We love to have the respectable folks come into the church, the well-clothed and well-bred, but bring in the drug addict or the drunk from skid row, and some people raise their eyebrows. We invite sinners into the warm harbor of God’s love, but they run smack-dab into the iceberg of the older brother.

When you really get down to it, many spiritual snobs don’t really believe in conversion. Talk to them about the thief on the cross, and they become very upset, even as some of the early Christians did not believe in Saul’s conversion. “But all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). None of us makes it to heaven except by God’s grace.

Search your heart today. Do you find even a trace of spiritual snobbery there? Plan to welcome newcomers into your church, sharing God’s grace with all who need it.

But for the grace of God there goes John Bradford.