I heard a tale the other day about a fellow who sold his tavern to a local church.

The enthusiastic congregation replaced the bar and stools with pews, installed new lighting and gave the walls a fresh coat of paint. Amid all the hustle and bustle, they didn’t realize the barkeeper had left his parrot behind.

The bird was perched in the rafters for the first Sunday service.

When the preacher walked in, the parrot screeched: “New owner.”

When choir members took their places, the bird exclaimed: “New floor show.”

Then the parrot turned around and got a look at the congregation and squawked: “Same old crowd.”

Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of truth to that old joke in that far too many people who go to church have no hesitation about hanging out in other places they ought not go. However, you have to keep in mind that just because someone goes to church doesn’t mean he or she is a Christian. Think about it. Does hanging out at McDonalds make you a hamburger? Does hanging out at the dog pound make you a Poodle? Does hanging out in a women’s clothing store make you a blouse?

A most miraculous thing must happen before people become Christians. They must be born again and enter into a personal relationship with Jesus. When that happens, a marvelous change takes place in their lives. They lose their desires for things of this world and they begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Perhaps some of the most encouraging words Christians can find in the entirety of the Bible are found in the book of Ephesians, where we’re told that Jesus gave his life for the church. The blood He shed on Mount Calvary was for the washing away of sins, so “that He might present to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it would be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

That means Christians should only engage in activities that allow them to remain clean and holy and unblemished. The Bible says Christians are to steer clear of unwholesome, wicked activities.

“Flee from these things, you man of God, and purse righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

That bartender’s parrot might have recognized the “same old crowd” in that bar. That may have been because the “same old crowd” was made up of faithful churchgoers but not faithful Christians.

Roger Alford is pastor of South Fork Baptist Church. Reach him at 502-514-6857 or by writing to P.O. Box 673, Owenton, Ky. 40359.

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