The Religious Voyeur

Sam is a voyeur. He’s been one as long as he can remember. This is his story; voyeur

In high school and college Sam was painfully aware that although he was attracted to pretty women, they were not attracted to him. He was not a member of the ‘in’ crowd. Over time his standards dropped and he finally met a fairly pretty woman who seemed to like him. Sam earned an MBA and a few years after college they were married.

Sam was a fairly successful sales manager for a small chain of coffee shops. For years they had struggled in the shadow of that other company from Seattle, until Sam hit upon the idea of ’boutique’ marketing. They pitched the shops as a place for the ‘in’ crowd, and only the ‘in’ crowd. Using foreign words on all their menus, they taught the staff to be efficient, yet haughty. They raised all the prices to lend an air of desirability to their product while also deterring a less sophisticated clientèle.

Even with success, a big house, two luxury cars and a vacation cottage in the Carolinas, Sam was not very happy. Sam’s wife spent a lot of money at the beautician and they both spent a lot of time at the gym. Sam also began to spend a lot of time on the Internet, visiting sites that provided him with fleeting and unfulfilled excitement. Neither of them could seem to scratch that unreachable itch.

At the urging of a friend they visited her church and were exposed to the Word of God . They both converted to Christianity and joined the denomination. Sam now realized that their past lives had been wasted pursuing the goals of this world; money, status, wealth, fame – vanity. They had taken on bad habits; lying, profanity, drunkenness and sexual immorality. They had made idols of their pride. They had spent their lives comparing themselves to others.

He felt the freedom of being released from these shackles of sin. His gratitude and love for God encouraged him to seek out ways in which to serve his Lord. He soon found that this was not an easy thing to do. A new Christian, he was painfully aware that he was Biblically illiterate. There was a new language to be learned, a way of speech peppered with words he rarely heard outside of church. Church leaders possessed novel talents and gifts; prophecy, teaching, evangelism, tongues, healing, wisdom. Possessing none of these gifts he was too timid to even consider lending a hand. He would have to wait and see what his true gifts were, if any.

He watched the congregation, hoping to learn how a good Christian looked. It was obvious to Sam that he had a long way to go. Most everyone could quote the Bible, chapter and verse. He felt inadequate talking about God with these people, so he got a Bible and began to read and memorize all he could. He watched people praying, with eyes closed, hands folded and head bowed and he prayed this way as well. He learned how to pray out loud, trying desperately to sound pious, using the right words while making sure that he missed no concerns.

His new friends talked about how Satan was using the culture to lure them back into bondage and he threw away all of is CD’s, DVD’s and books. He stopped going to restaurants that served alcohol. (He still had some wine, now and then, but he made sure to keep this fact hidden). Most of his old friends were no longer a part of his new life, as they were not believers. Though claiming to be Christians, he could tell by their lifestyles that they were not. His dedication was recognized and held up in church as an example for everyone.

As Sam became more comfortable with his new community he began to notice the occasional visitor to the church. Recognizing many of his own pre-salvation failings, he watched and looked for the signs that they were turning to Jesus. Sam was only too aware that he was being watched as well and took great pains to look the part of a Godly man. He hoped that they could tell where he stood with Christ, if not by his piety and righteousness then at least by his Christian tee shirts, crosses and bumper stickers. His Christian lifestyle spoke for itself. It was no question that Sam was saved, but he worried about other people. It was usually so easy to tell, but still….

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  1. #1 by Christian on March 19, 2008 - 11:49 am

    Ric, I take it you did not grow up in your church. I wonder how many of us have similar stories.

    Bad -no doubt. Todd Agnew does a song similar to the one you just shared with us. In it he aks if we would allow Jesus, with his worn clothing and dirty feet to even approach the altar in most of our churches.

    Reminds me of a children’s sermon a friend and I once did. We had just shared Matthew 25:31-46 with the kids and then my friend, dressed as a dirty bum (I know, not PC, sorry) entered the sanctuary and came shambling up the center aisle and sat with his. He looked very authentic.

    The kids were very welcoming but some eyes got pretty wide among our congregation. Later more than a couple told me that they were ready to tackle this interloper before he got any closer to the children.

    Made us think.

    (BTW – sorry you got spam blocked, Bad. Ghost in the machine.)

  2. #2 by lovewillbringustogether on March 19, 2008 - 11:51 pm

    I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating in light of the above…

    My Father in his youth was, like most, a tad ‘rebellious’ and obviously had earned a ‘reputation’ of sorts in his small local community, but he did attend church (infrequently).

    On one such rare occasion as he was walking in the door, the parish priest saw him and made the remark: “and what Ill Wind blew you here?”

    My father looked at him, said nothing, turned on his heel and walked away. He never went to church again and saw religion as a total hypocrisy for the remainder of his life.

    It may well be that the priest’s words were just the last in a line of ‘straws’ my father took hold of while building his own ‘temple’.

    But would we wish to be the last straw one to any of His Children? To be the thing that makes the difference between a life turned towards God and one turned away?

    I need to think long and hard on that one myself! 🙂

    love ❤

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