Guest Commentary: The Gate called Beautiful by Meg


Recently one of the contributors on the forum made a post that is challenging. This post points toward the looking toward appearance and failing to get to the heart of those hurting  and lost in darkness.  These words should be challenging to us all. Also remember it is Jesus who went after those outside this gate, the prostitutes and tax collectors.  So take time and read the commentary and let the Holy Spirit speak to you regarding the content.

It seems to me there is a gate on the American church called Beautiful. Its a gate gilded with money and success. It is all too easy to hide behind that gate and pretend that nothing on the outside of that gate matters. It seems to me that everything outside the gate called Beautiful is either too dangerous or too unattractive to look at closely. Or maybe its just too expensive; after all, these days time is money.
I knew a woman in 2006 whose daughter died of a drug overdose right here in the Bible Belt. That young woman was just outside the gate called Beautiful! Right outside!!! Her mother knew it, but there was nothing she could do to stop it, because she too was trapped outside the gate called Beautiful. My best friend died outside the gate called Beautiful. He never knew he had a choice. He thought God was a slot machine, nothing but random chance, and he got dealt the losing hand, he really thought that, and that horrifically mistaken impression killed him — slowly. I had the front row seat in that horror movie. That was one of the wounds I never thought could heal… It literally took an act of God to heal that one.

It seems to me that the church has decided that unless someone is getting paid to do something that nothing is going to get done. Since money is so important, they spend quite a bit of it to build impressive sanctuaries that attract money to pay the staff to “do something”, then they build a gate called “Beautiful” to keep the ugliness tightly shut out. Its safe in there, and it is beautiful; the money insists on that, because everybody knows that poverty kills, so therefore the lie becomes true, and the prosperity gospel becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy with a great deal of credibility.

Doesn’t the dying matter??? I see it every day, the people who live behind the gate called Beautiful singing “Blessed To Be A Blessing” while they turn their backs on everything they don’t want to see. And its so convenient how everyone they don’t want to see find somewhere else to die. Cemeteries are very quiet places by nature, where death is hidden under the soil easily forgotten. The wealthy are so easy to look at that it is equally easy to turn away from anything that doesn’t fit inside the gate called “Beautiful”. They justify themselves with ministries to the homeless, who they cannot ignore, but its the people trapped behind the gate called “Almost” who are doing the real dying. They are the people who are easily ignored. They are the people who are pointedly ignored. They would rather work than steal, they work cheap and are easily replaced, and easily exploited as well. They neither cost much money nor cause much trouble, so the existence of the working underclass is both useful and easily taken for granted.

Turning your back is effortless. Nothing could be more visibly important than success, so it makes perfect sense to pour all their time and energy into creating more success. Nothing could be easier than failure, all they haver to do is stop trying, and since anything easy is cheap, and anything cheap is plentiful, hell is filling up fast, and anyone who doesn’t measure up is expendable. Right outside the gate called “Beautiful”…

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One Response

  1. A related story is shared by Meg:
    I had been a Christian for about two years when this happened. I wasn’t going to church, and I was still learning to live by Scripture — its harder than it looks. I very nearly lost my house in the winter of 2004-2005; it was a last ditch effort, a job at McDonalds that kept me safe from that eventuality. It was at McDonalds that I met Cheryl. She was in her early 50’s. She’d had a very hard, very unstable life. Her first husband nearly killed her, so she married a man who worked as an iron-worker. They had to travel constantly for him to stay working, since he built things like large buildings and bridges.

    Cheryl was a combination of solid dedication and little strength. I think what messed her up was the shock of being brutally beaten by her first husband when she was a young woman; there was certainly a strong root of trauma there… She seemed to have been raised to be a Christian, but her faith had taken such a hard blow that Jesus Name was her favorite swear word. My prayer journal gained a few pages from the months I worked with her.

    In spite of, her flaws, I liked her. Because of her strengths, I respected her. We both worked very hard, we worked the same station, which included baking breakfast items. That meant using steel baking sheets in a 375 degree oven, and Cheryl’s arms were covered with burns — Cheryl, who had only one child because she couldn’t face the pain of another childbirth. The poor woman was extremely nervous all the time, yet the life she spoke of seemed to be nice enough. She had been married to her second husband for something like 30 years, and they had enough. Her daughter lived nearby, Yet something seemed really wrong. it’s the things they don’t say…

    When I left McDonalds for another job, everything was as it had always been. I was working two jobs for a while, cleaning at night and working at another McDonalds doing breakfast in the morning. One morning, a young lady from Cherly’s store found me at my morning job. She told me that Cheryl’s Dad had been killed in Hurricane Katrina and that something had happened to her daughter, and could I help. I always did like Cheryl. I went down to her store and found her. We went outside to talk.

    She told me about her Dad first. He had lived in New Orleans all his life, and was in his 80’s or 90’s or something, he was old and stubborn. They couldn’t get him to evacuate when Hurricane Katrina was coming. No one could persuade him to leave… He had a heart attack in during the storm. That was bad enough, but what happened about six weeks later is why I am telling this woman’s story.

    Cheryl’s daughter had moved to Florida with a boyfriend, so she talked to her Mom on her birthday, and everything seemed normal enough. Until the following night. Cheryl’s cell phone rang. It was the boyfriend. A moment later, Cheryl’s husband answered their land line (telephone). It was a detective in Florida. Cheryl’s only daughter, her precious daughter was dead from a drug overdose. Cheryl had a nervous breakdown. She spent some time in a hospital…

    Remember those burns on her arms. All down her wrists, fresh burns and scars from healed burns. She never mentioned the detail that her daughter was on drugs. Now I had been witnessing to her, so had another woman at work. I was a new Christian, but the other woman had been a Christian for decades, but the other woman had never overcome her deep bitterness. A third Christian, a pastor’s daughter (Cheryl herself had to clue me in on her, you never would have guessed she was even a Christian at all) was the reason I quit that job. She was one of the most abusive bosses I have ever had the misery to work for. She did wonders for my prayer life…

    I had tried everything I could think of to testify to Cheryl. I had even given her a copy of The Cross And The Switchblade, the story of how Teen Challenge got started, Teen Challenge has an 85% success rate with healing drug addicts. What I had to give wasn’t enough. What Jesus Christ had to give was just out of reach. Why? I can only guess; there’s a lot Cheryl told me; there’s a lot more she didn’t. Who’s to bless and who’s to blame? The answers may look more obvious than they really are, but one thing is clear in my mind. You can talk about Jesus Christ all day, but people are going to believe what you’re doing. So maybe you want to think for a while about what your faith means to you, because what your faith means to you is going to be very clear to people who know you.

    What broke my heart was the fact that there was a church just out of reach that could have helped Cheryl’s daughter. The Minister Of Outreach was a biker who had himself been delivered from drug addiction. The woman who was drowning in her own bitterness was actually going to that church at the time. I went for a few months myself, the following year (after the tragedy). Jesus Christ was right there, just out of reach. Just out of reach…

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