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Love and Respect

I brief version of my take on 1 Corinthians 13 & 14

Assumptions

I saw a couple walking together. Or were they?
Matching sweatshirts matching sweat pants matching white shoes step for step both had headphones on one was walking about 6 feet in front of the other.
How were they together and how were they not?
Their appearances matched so well I asked they were together.
Why?
I group things, and people, by their appearance and behavior all the time. Sometimes fairly, sometimes not.
The Sesame Street sing “One of these things is not like the others” comes to mind. Differentiation is an important skill, but figuring how deeply distinguishing features go is even more important.
Categorizing, even stereotyping, I believe is beneficial for negotiating a world of differences. Locking the one or ones observed into the limits of a stereotype, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous.

Pest Control and Evangelism

Last Saturday afternoon our doorbell rang as we were preparing to load the cars for dinner at the family reunion we hosted over the weekend.

A pest control company was in the development on behalf of one of my neighbors. The exterminator/door-to-door salesman wanted to make sure I had the opportunity while he was in the area.  For only $50 he would treat my yard, too!

I politely engaged in conversation while just as politely expressing that I was not very interested.  I know I turned him down at least four times.  It seemed he literally would not accept “no” for an answer.

I was probably not quite as polite at the end of the conversation as I was at the beginning, but he was wearing me out. As I stepped back inside the house and started to shut the door, I heard him say, “well, aren’t you awesome!”  in a clearly sarcastic tone. (I know sarcasm; having used it myself for more than 35 years now)

Here’s the deal.  When I am cold-called, I start from a place of being a very hard sell.  I feel I am at an extreme disadvantage.  When the salesperson has too-quick an answer to EVERY ONE of my questions, it doesn’t not build trust. No, it makes me step even further back.

My takeaway.  Well, first, perhaps I could have stepped back out and pursued his sarcastic suggestion of my awesomeness. That’s water under the bridge.

Second, Christians, we can glean from insight into how other might feel when we attempt to share Jesus with them.  Sure, you and I know it is not just another sales call, but it is reasonable that the other person feels like we are trying to make a sale.

The faster we respond with canned answers to sincere questions, the less interested the other person is in what we have to say.

In case you are ever told to “bug off” when trying to share your faith, consider the perspective of the other person.

 

 

 

This REALLY Happened!

“Yes, and” beats “No, but” (or, Man Up, Rick Perry!)

handshake3Governor Rick Perry rejected an opportunity to greet President Obama with a handshake on a visit to Texas. Perry said he would, however, be interested in meeting with the President about the crisis at Texas’ southern border. More than 50K unaccompanied minors have crossed the border this year seeking residence in the US.

Perry has let us all know, for some time now, how dissatisfied he is with the President’s handling of the situation. Or the President’s lack of handling the situation.

Sometimes it seems to me that Perry is more interested in making Obama look bad than in actually making progress on issues.  (Insert here all your opinions about how Obama doesn’t need help looking bad as President.  That’s another post)

If the children in South Texas are more the issue than grandstanding against Obama, though, wouldn’t it have made sense for Perry to accept the invitation to meet Obama with a handshake, and then lead him into a discussion about the issue?

I have found that a “Yes, and…” almost always gets a discussion further than a No, but….”

On the other hand, it may not be a fair assumption for me to make that any politician is actually interested in discussing things with a view to make progress on any particular issue.

On this matter, at least, shouldn’t it be more about the children than about who is right and who does what?

If it were this easy, EVERYONE would do it!

prayI followed this SUV most of my way home the other day.  While I suppose some of you may tell me that God was trying to tell me something else, here is what I took from this “inspirational” sticker.

Prayer does work, I agree.  In my experience, however, it rarely works is a way that I infer from this sticker.  In other words, I don’t believe prayer that “works” is like a “Precious moments” moment.

Abraham bargained with God.  Jacob wrestled.  David sang and danced prayerfully, but also wrote long laments about the sense of God’s absence, of begging God to remember His promises.

When it came down to it, Jesus was so stressed in prayer that he sweat drops of blood. (Luke 22:44)

Prayer works  in part because prayer is work.

My Belated Apologies, Paul and Art

darknessYesterday I cracked open Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark.  This is the July selection for our Summer Book Club.   Here’s how the Introduction opens:

I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.  – Isaiah 45:3

Immediately, this memory surfaced from more than 30 years ago.  As a young Christian in high school, I reacted strongly and arrogantly against a musical duo that performed at a Midwinter Retreat because they performed Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”

Near the pinnacle of the phase of my life when I knew everything, I was utterly certain that the line “Hello darkness my old friend…” was (bot so) subtly conjuring up the Prince of Darkness Himself at this unsuspecting Christian event.

Oh, the horror!  The Horror!

Then, today, I crack

HOW CAN IT BE!?  In scripture, no less, a positive reference to darkness!

I had no idea, as a 16 year old young Christian-who-knew-everything, that this could possibly be from the same source, the Bible, as all my outrage at the reference to darkness.

So, I didn’t actually know everything then.  I don’t know everything today. It hasn’t taken me all these years to realize this. But it is not every day that something from my past is brought so clearly back into focus.

I am sorry, Simon and Garfunkel, for being so arrogantly presumptuous and condescending.  I am sorry, duo who sang at that Midwinter, for all the attitude a 16 year old Christian-who-knows-everything can muster.

I am looking forward to reading this book.

I am also looking forward to giving others the benefit of the doubt.  It turns out I didn’t know everything at 16.  I still don’t.

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