Bouncers in Paradise

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Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38)

You go to church and meet this intimidating-looking dude at the door. As you are about to enter he steps in front of you and, with narrowed eyes, he demands, “What do you want?” You stumble for words. “Uh, I want to go to church?” He tosses his head in disdain. “Take a hike, pee wee.” You turn away, completely dumbfounded, and shuffle back to your car. “Well,” you think to yourself. “I tried anyway.” Then, perking up, you head to your favorite Starbucks where you enjoy one of the most delightful Sunday mornings you’ve had in a long time.

We need a few good bouncers at the Pub of God. Jesus may be the Door, but definitely he needs some burly dudes to keep out the religious riffraff. It’s not like he hasn’t used them before. In fact, the first thing he did after booting Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden was to post cherubim (ie: badassed angel thugs) to keep those lowlifes from getting back in. And one of the main jobs of the Levites in the Old Testament was to screen out the slime bags from sneaking into the Temple.

In the New Testament we hear of a bunch of folks who got nailed by the church bouncers. Of course, Jesus himself starts the whole thing when he runs amok in the temple, kicks over some tables, and pitches the money changers out of the joint. Then there were Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, who tried to pass themselves off as good church folk to Peter (the church’s first great bouncer). They ended up dead. A while later, when Simon the sorcerer tried to bribe Peter for access to the Holy Spirit club, Peter jumped all over him. The early church bouncers were so good that for a while no one else dared to join them. Forget parking issues; back then you thought twice about even trying to go to church. Back then it wasn’t a matter of stylistic preference; it was a matter of survival. You counted yourself lucky if you made it out and to the restaurant alive.

Now days we’ve got armed security in churches to protect us from crazies who want shorter sermons. But what about protection from people like me? Where’s the guy at the church door who stops me and asks me what the hell I want? And what would I answer if somebody did? Good music? Self-esteem reinforcement? Practical coping advice? A feather in my religious cap? Or maybe, on those rare times, even God?

Maybe it’s best we forget the bouncer thing. I’d never pass muster. Besides, on Sunday mornings I’m sore from my week-long cage fight with my carnal nature. I’m sure glad the real Sabbath was yesterday.

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