I am extremely concerned about the level of snobbery in the church. I was going to say the Traditional Church – but on reflection the problem is equally as severe in Independent, Charismatic and Pentecostal incarnations of the Christian faith.
I have been in churches where who you are is more important than what you are – in others where rank and position in society were clearly a distinct advantage – and in others where being in the right “clique” ensured attention and favouritism.
I listened to a well know leader in Charismatic circles recently who said that as his ministry grew in the early years he came to the point where he was “unable” to accept invitations to gatherings of less than one thousand. My immediate reaction was – how unlike the Master who made a huge detour on foot just to meet an outcast by a well in a strange town where he was unknown.
But the problem of denominational snobbery takes the issue to another level. Throughout my life I have seen the incalculable damage this has caused and so tarnished the name of Christianity and the Christ we claim to follow.
Of course this problem is not unique to our age or culture – because I suspect that when we boil it down snobbery is made up mostly of pride.
The problem was highlighted by the Apostle Paul in his letter to a disfunction Church in Corinth –
“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”?”
1 Corinthians 1:25-31 (MSG)
I think some of us need to be reminded of this church as we so often look back with our rose tinted spectacles and long for the days and purity of the “early church”. Seems like very often it was a bit of a mess really – just like today. But I digress.
The problem with snobbishness is that it excludes. Furthermore, bing rooted in pride, it is abhorrent to God. And if we are guilty of this as a church or as individuals I suspect we are robbing ourselves of Gods blessing because he does very often – “Chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses.”
So may God help us to live a humble life, free from snobbishness at any level. Of course Paul sums it up best –
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t become snobbish but take a real interest in ordinary people. Don’t become set in your own opinions.”
Romans 12:16 (PHILLIPS)