With one finger, he lowered the electric window of his Cadillac convertible. He was smoking a big cigar. He was a prominent businessman in our town. In our little church, he was our big giver.
I was a young minister, newly married, and had been preaching in this little church for only a few months.
It was Sunday morning.
- Bible Class – 9:00 AM
- Sermon that Offended Our Big Giver – 10:00 AM
Right after church, he went to his car and sat, smoking that cigar. As I walked out of the door of the church building, he motioned me over to his car. He looked at me and said, “Let’s don’t talk about the blacks!” (Ok, that is not exactly what he said. His choice of words were rough.)
I don’t remember what I preached that morning. I don’t remember the topic or the text. I recall saying something about treating all people fairly and with justice regardless of ethnicity. I probably mentioned specific ethnic groups that were represented in our area.
He did not like what I said. I knew he was serious-very serious. I also knew that our church seemed to depend on his contribution check to pay the bills each week. In fact, I knew that he was partially responsible for the check I received each week. He was wealthier than anyone else in that little church.
This was an important moment for me, standing beside his car door that Sunday morning.
Was I called to preach or was I simply employed by a church?
There is a huge difference in the two.
My response to him was: “I just preach what I believe the Bible says.” Now that wasn’t bravado. I’m sure I was trembling inside. This was my first confrontation with him over issues that were very close to the heart of the Gospel.
For me, that encounter with him was a clarifying moment. I was a young minister and needed to decide whether I was going to put my confidence in God or in the pleasure of one who was the largest giver in our church.
Do you recall an encounter in which you had to declare or decide whom you served?