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Wednesday, December 02, 2015

What Did You Say?

I was driving down a main boulevard. From a side street a truck shot across the road. Now, I wasn't anywhere near, so I wasn't affected, but several cars coming the other direction had to slam on their brakes to avoid a collision. The truck made it across without an accident, but not without an impact. You see, it had the name of a company on the side. And everyone drove by thinking, "So, would you imagine that that company treats its customers with the same courtesy and concern that that driver treated his fellow travellers?"

I went to high school in the age of busing. Mine was an "integrated school", meaning whites and hispanics and blacks were all sent here so they could gather with their other compatriots in their separate groups while attending the school with other groups. Now, I wasn't raised with that kind of thinking. My two best friends were a legally-blind black guy and a Colombian kid. They used to call us "the United Nations". But I was walking out of the locker room after P.E. one day and a small group of black guys were gathered at the door I was approaching. They spoke among themselves loudly about how they would love to ... do damage to a white guy. I ignored them; not my concern. But as I got to the door the smallest and loudest of them struck out at me, missing my face by an inch. "Boom!" he said to his friends and they laughed about how they'd love to really hurt me. Nothing more. It was over. I went on. But I was thinking, "Wow, I never knew it, but black people really hate white people, don't they?" That didn't last long. "Oh, wait ... my friend is black and he doesn't." And I realized that this kind of thing -- on both sides -- is the kind of thing that creates racial hatred. Sad how a very small group of malcontents can reflect so badly on an entire group of people.

I was reading the news items of the day and came across (multiple times) the ridiculous story of "an evangelical Christian" who was "outraged" with Starbucks for "hating Jesus" because they didn't have Christian items on their Christmas cups. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Stupid because it wasn't true. Stupid because the media played it to the hilt. Stupid because the other side was quick to say, "See? You Christians are lunatics!"

I think perhaps we don't think much about what we are saying when we are not speaking. Paul told the Jews who verbally claimed to follow the law while living a different set of choices, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:24) We may say the right things, but when our lives don't reflect the love Jesus said we should (John 13:35) or the truths and values we claim, there is a different message being reflected and it can be much louder than our words.

One time I was required to spend some time in the company of a coworker who claimed to be a Christian. He liked to chat, so he went on and on about the girls he was bedding and the drinking he was accomplishing and ... well you get the idea. At some point he stopped, appearing to expect my admiring response. I said, "Look, I have nothing to say about what you do with your life. I'm not your commander, your mother, your god. I'm just another guy. So if that's what you want to do, I have nothing to say. I just have one request. Please, please, don't tell anyone you're a Christian."
"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:16)
That's what Jesus said.

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