My Yankee friends won’t understand this post.  Y’all go back to eating your bagels and shoveling snow and saying “eh?” and check back in tomorrow, y’hear?

But for us Southerners, let’s talk:

All of us are familiar with the term “Bless your heart.”  Most of you have already filled in the blanks on this one, but in case you’re uninitiated, it means “What an idiot.”  As in, “Jim Bob has done flipped his four wheeler again.  Bless his heart.”  Or, “My goodness, Sally Mae is still trying to fit into them size 12 jeans.  Bless her heart.”

I believe that church people are the primary offenders when it comes to bless-your-heart hospitality.  We tend to be heavy on pretense and light on sincerity.  You’ll notice it in churches of all sizes and applied to first time guests and long term members alike.  Here are some of the dead giveaways:

  • People gather up in clustered cliques, having hushed conversations.  When a new person comes on the scene, we’re sunshine and roses, but make no further attempt to include them in the group.  As they walk away, we’re back to business as usual.
  • A sinner comes into our presence and has the audacity to…well, to act like a sinner.  They talk like one, dress like one, and respond like one.  We tolerate them, but rarely do we fully accept them.
  • We let relational discord fester.  Rather than sitting with a brother or sister and hashing out our differences, we continue to nurse a grudge or foster bitterness or feed a bad attitude.
  • We stick to what we know.  We know our friends.  We know our preferences.  We know our small group.  And if anyone tries to infiltrate those circles, we’re immediately suspicious.  Will they disrupt the harmony?  Will they interfere with our established position?  Will they become friends with our friends?

And yet, in all of these things we rarely break a smile.  We ooze charm like molasses.  But on the inside we’re crooked and perverse.  All of these indicators reveal the true nature of our heart: prideful, judgmental, hateful, spiteful.  We idolize self and devalue those on whom God has placed value.  Where he seeks to bless, we proclaim a curse.  What he has called “very good,” we think to ourselves “What an idiot.”

I’ve got some bless-your-heart hospitality to weed out this week.  How about you?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

-James 2:8-9