by Robert Earl Houston
By now most of us have seen the photograph of disgraced Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald J. Sterling from Sunday, June 1, 2014 visiting, at the pastor’s request, the historic Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church in south Los Angeles, California, where Dr. Joe B. Hardwick, is their venerable pastor.
Almost immediately there was a backlash. Why was he there? Was he there for damage control? Shame on Dr. Hardwick and Praises of Zion. And one person even went as far to suggest that Sterling should have been banned from the worship service completely. Other pastors across the country came out against his presence. But I am not one of those persons.
I wrote this on Facebook:
“I’m a little saddened at the reaction, especially from believers, to Pastor Joe B. Hardwick’s invitation to Donald Sterling coming to Praises of Zion MBC in Los Angeles. Sterling didn’t make a speech and from what I understood, he sat there, reverently throughout the worship experience. Yes, he made a mistake – but he’s still a soul in need of a savior. I know Dr. Hardwick and I believe it has nothing to do with a motive of money, and every baptist church is autonomous and if he wanted to invite him, that’s his priority and right. No wonder the fallen can’t be restored – because we are barring them from coming into the House of Hope. Just my two cents.”
I’m afraid of what many churches have become and what many skeptics, especially Christian bloggers, who sometimes reside in ivory towers, away from the visibility of their own sins. Church is not the retirement home for the super holy. Church is not the place where we congratulate each other on our holiness and our immaculate wardrobes. Church is not the place where those who struggle in life flee from because their shame forces those who fall or fail to retreat.
No, the church (and the Body of Christ) should be mature even and ministerial enough to open it’s doors and not put up barricades to those who are going through life. Can you imagine any Christian leader saying to his crowd, “we hate the President and he’s not welcome here” (like some have) or “that brother is not worthy because he has made a mistake in his life” (like some have) or in this case, “because he used the n-word, he’s not welcome here” (but then in private offices, throw around the word like it’s a football behind closed doors).
For the record, I believe Donald Sterling should been banned from the NBA, lose his franchise and be satisfied as a spectator and celebrate a sizable profit he has made from an initial purchase of $12 million dollars to the sale at over $2 billion dollars. His remarks, conduct, vile statements, etc. demand that he should be withdrawn from the NBA.
But never from the house of the Lord. It is there that he will find others who have had their issues in this life.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED