They Will Know We Are Christians By…What?

Here’s a random question: do you go out to lunch after church on Sunday?

I often do.

Here’s a follow-up question: did you know that the after-church Sunday crowd is widely known as the rudest demographic waiters have to deal with?

Someone mentioned that to me a while ago, so the other day I asked an employee at a local burrito joint about it. He said it’s true.

“They just have this angry look,” he told me.

A quick Google search reveals the sad truth: restaurant workers dread the after-church Sunday crowd. Hundreds of waiters have taken to the internet to share their stories of what they have to put up with when we—believers—walk into their restaurants after church on Sundays.

“Our least favorite customers were Christians. Especially the ones carrying their Bibles and wearing Christians t-shirts… they were among our worst customers. They were often rude, demeaning, condescending, arrogant, impatient, picky about their food, and to top it off, the worst tippers ever.” | source

“I absolutely hated working on Sundays having to deal with the church crowd. They were always the loudest, most demanding and rudest people, especially when they came in as a group. They would run you like crazy and then leave the most pitiful tip and a Gospel tract.” | source

“I never understood how they could go to church but less than 20 minutes after leaving be the worst example of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.” | source

“There’s not anything in my mind that made the church-goers stand out in a good way. Nothing about them made me want to say, ‘Hmmm … maybe I should see what this Jesus thing is all about.’” | source

Don’t these make you cringe? I mean, isn’t this the total opposite of the reputation we Christians are supposed to have?

How will the world know us by our love if the main things we’re known for are our stinginess and arrogant condescension?

“My mom and sisters have all been waitresses. The s***** thing is church goers hit up restaurants after church but believe the wait staff are sinning by working the sabbath. They never tip but will leave a fake looking dollar bill with scripture printed on the underside.” | source

“Overall, I believe the worst part about restaurant working on Sunday mornings is the look people give you. The ‘I can’t believe you’re here instead of church’ look. Like I’m some rotten heathen going to hell because I’m serving them instead of at church. Let’s be honest, I don’t want to be here, I’d rather be in church. But I’m a college student in debt till I’m 57 and i don’t have the luxury to not work.” | source

“I’m so disappointed its ridiculous. I was raised a Christian and I think every day how that was a waste of my life. I think Jesus would be disgusted at the way churches treat catering, delivery, and restaurants.” | source

The stories go on, but you get the idea.

All of this is heartbreaking for two reasons:

First, isn’t it tragic that we, the people who are supposed to point others to Christ, often turn people away from Him by our behavior? We’re supposed to be defined by love and forgiveness, but instead it’s our rude actions that end up leaving indelible impressions on others.

And second, this doesn’t make any sense in light of the Gospel. As Christians, we should know better, because at the end of the day, none of us is righteous. None of us is better than anyone else. It doesn’t matter if you’re a waiter or a student or a CEO—we all are sinners who desperately need Christ. Therefore, of all the character traits that define us, humility and compassion should be near the top of the list—not smug, Pharisee-like condescension.

“Pharisaic people assume that they are right with God because of their moral behavior and right doctrine. This leads naturally to feelings of superiority toward those who do not share their religiosity, and from there to various forms of abuse, exclusion, and oppression… What if, however, the essence of Christianity is salvation by grace, salvation not because of what we do but because of what Christ has done for us? Belief that you are accepted by God by sheer grace is profoundly humbling.” | Tim Keller, The Reason for God:

Obviously, it’s not realistic to share the Gospel with everyone we meet, and it’s also impossible to make a good impression on every waiter who serves us. But at the very least, let’s strive to be kind. Let’s strive to be generous. Let’s strive to be empathetic.

Let’s strive to represent Christ well, no matter where we are and no matter who we encounter.

Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. | Ephesians 5:1–2

We are ambassadors for Christ, 24/7. Let’s do our best to live and behave accordingly.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. | John 13:34–35

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