The Church of Perfect People

by Robert Earl Houston

Donald Sterling, ESQ and Dr. Joe B. Hardwick

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.


8 responses

  1. I agree with your article I find it sad that people are angry someone in need of a savior came to church. Church is a hospital for sinners.

  2. Rev. Justin M. Shamell | Reply

    My opinion on the issue of Donald Sterling attending worship service at a African-American church but for him to have members of the media have the knowledge that he was going to church. As I type this comment, I’m a little bother with the pastor for allowing the media to film inside of the church. Worship service should be an sacred moment between God and people. Worship Service should never be the backdrop for a commerical to promote your church for advertisement purposes. Worship services should never be a backdrop for a photo op to show the media and the public that you’re not a racist. Wotship service is the time to offer praises God and to give thanks.

  3. Andre L. Porter | Reply

    There is no wonder people do not trust the Church during this modern era. There is no love. We want to run, jump, dance, shout and make all kinds of things that seemingly make us look effective, bottom line the Church has lost her power of effectiveness. Why would Mr. Sterling and many others not be allowed to attend Church? Any Church? We are so messed up and off the mark of what the Church is and suppose to be doing.

  4. Helen Edwards | Reply

    He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone! It’s going to always be something to complain about. I think it’s a shame the way this all came about, she was wrong for what she did! I pray to God for her soul and if I knew how to contact her, I would invite her to Jesus and then to church,,,she needs to be saved! Sterling can sit in church all he want to, but just like so many of the ones who are already there…in the church, but the church is not in them! I pray Dr. Harwick’s motives were in line with his teachings. For all we know he could have been there before, they could be friends in L.A. I wish “Church people would stop being so fake and be about our Father’s business while there is time! Keep praying for the Sterlings, the young lady, Dr. Hardwick and one another.

  5. Sadly People will be people. Whether inside the church or outside. Somehow the notion that we are ambassadors for the kingdom of heaven has escaped the hearts and minds of believers. Spiritual amnesia is running rampant. Everyone wants grace and mercy but not everyone wants to extend it. It’s just like kids that get caught up in gangs. The most common answer is the streets became my family when I had none. Are we as a body of believers; as brothers and sisters in Christ content with turning our back on that one individual? Luke 15 May need to be ingrained a little deeper in the hearts of the church. If no one came to Christ but one then the sacrifice was well spent. One more soul should be the aim not one less. Be blessed and a blessing

  6. We must ask ourselves, what would Jesus do? He would have invited him to church. As the body of Christ we have to stop judging people!! We will not be effective in winning souls for the Kingdom. So many African-American Churches are so judgemental not realizing that people are leaving the church. So many people are hurting and have been beat up from life, we should be able to come to God’s house to find shelter. If a stripper come to church in her short skirt and low cut blouse we should make her feel welcomed not condemned. We can’t change people, we can’t change ourselves. Let Sterling come to the house of the Lord, even if he bring the media. You never know how God could use that situation. Some people are saying the pastor only invited Sterling to get a large donation, let God search the pastors heart, let God determine the pastors motives. From my personal experience before I became saved, I thought the church were a group of people that had a perfect life. When I accepted Jesus as the Lord of my life, and began to renew my mind with the Word. I quickly realized that the sun shines on the just and the unjust. As the Body Of Christ we are all trying to make it through this life, we are not perfect we are forgiving. Preachers, ushers, deacons, worship leaders, ect.. We should be honest with ourselves, if our sins were exposed to the world like Sterlings, would we want to be restored with compassion?

  7. I totally agree. We have forgotten that our faith in Christ exceeds the unnecessary actions we often times make. If he was to make an appearance anywhere, it should’ve been the church. Maybe Sterling understands that nothing else can help him but the blood of Jesus. If Jesus wouldn’t have put him out then why would the bride. Lol. After all, He’s still the head of the house.

  8. Rewv. Larry Thomas | Reply

    What has happened to Rev. 22:17? Donald Sterling, should be treated as any other sinner, and what better place for him to be than in an Africa-American Church, where he can see and experience the love of God. I don’t know if he was there for a photo ops or what Dr. Harwick’s motives were, I only hope whoever gave the message was guided by the Holy Spirit.

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by Pastor Robert Earl Houston

H.B. Charles Jr.

About life, preaching, church, books, and other stuff.

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