I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being told, at every store I enter or order from online, that I am receiving the lowest prices — ever!
The statement is made so much and so sweepingly, that I don’t remotely believe it, and when at Store B — with the lowest prices in town — I found three items that were priced higher than Store A — also with the lowest prices in town, I was hardly surprised. But that’s okay, because three of Store A’s lowest prices in town were higher than Store B’s.
It all averages out somehow, and this apparently is the loophole. Everyone is telling the truth, sort of, just not the specific truth that their words give the impression of saying.
“That’s just life, Naive Girl.”
Yes, it is. Life in the world of men consists of partial statements, misinformation, disinformation, and 95 percent of the truth mixed in with 5 percent of the lie, and the winner of the game is the one who recognizes this and doesn’t get caught.
Unfortunately, many of the same techniques are used within the spiritual realm — knowingly and unknowingly — and among Christians, the equivalent statement to “We have the lowest prices in town!” is
“Jesus loves you!”
A friend who works at a grocery store, and who has experienced enough church life to swear her off of God forever, commented about a recent customer who barely answered her greeting and woodenly replied to her chipper comments (in case you’ve never worked in retail, clerks are instructed to sound happy and perky no matter how rude we are in return). At the end of the transaction, when my friend handed over the groceries, the customer beamed at her and said,
“Jesus looooooooves you! He died for you and will save you from your sin!”
Hammer It In, Hon
Well, as far as my friend goes, there’s another nail in God’s coffin.
You know, my friend is like a lot of people, seeking truth, longing for love, and wondering if this God they hear so much about is really the source of it. I was in that place 30-plus years ago, when as a cynical, jaded college student I opened myself enough, just barely, in vulnerability, to start asking others, who seemed to know, about God.
“Jesus loves you!” is the first thing I was told. “Come to church and you’ll see!”
That didn’t really answer what I was looking for: I wanted to know why life was so difficult. I wanted to know why others had meaningful relationships and I was alone. I ached because I frequently ate by myself in the college cafeteria and I lived with the constant feeling that I was a societal failure. And I really wanted to talk to someone safe, gentle, understanding, and accepting who could convince me that, at 19, I wasn’t a total flop.
“Jesus loves you!”
We Are His Ambassadors
He does, actually, and because we are His hands and feet, His body in this world, He has commissioned us with showing that love, which, frequently, we don’t know how to do other than invite a seeker to come to church.
“It’s warm and friendly and welcoming there,” we tell ourselves, “and Pastor will teach them the truths that I don’t really know. I mean, I’m not a Bible study teacher or anything.”
It’s simpler than that, actually, and more difficult. In the case of my friend, who works long, disparate hours at a job where many customers — Christian and non-Christian — treat her as if she were a talking machine, it would take nothing more than making eye contact, smiling, and speaking with her as if she were a fellow, equal, human being. Some people do that — Christian and non-Christian.
How did Jesus show His love to people when He walked on earth?
He listened to them.
He accepted them.
He was gentle with the vulnerable, straightshooting with those who claimed to be wise or leaders.
He genuinely cared about them, and didn’t set up a relationship designed expressly to “bring them to God” (or into the church), and then drop them.
It’s Hard to Do Simple Things
I know, I know — we’re human and we’re not perfect and we’ll make mistakes and all that. But for all that we are concerned about our ministry opportunities — short term mission trips, teaching small groups, participating in visitation committees, printing the bulletin — we have far more valid, and important options just in the process of living our daily lives.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12: 31)
Non-condescendingly, humbly, and without thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to while we’re doing it.
Sometimes, the hardest things to do are the ones that sound the easiest.
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