Friday, February 8, 2008

The power of the cross

Dear Christian,

What a delightful day for me! I loooooove following you around!

First, traffic was such torture today. Loved how you yelled at that lady who cut you off! (The hand gesture was a nice touch, too.) Priceless! Especially since your bumper sticker proudly boasts your church name and a lovely cross. Hahahahahahahahahahaha I'm sure THAT will boost attendance next Sunday. Hahahahahahahahahahaha

And in the customer service line at XYZ-mart: Loved the huffing and puffing and general nasty attitude. Oh, yes, I know you had to wait a whole 15 minutes in line before being served. And the fact that you ranted and yelled at the poor clerk when you finally did get served because she could not accept your return was a beautiful addition. Demanding to see the manager and then yelling at him, too, was a fantastic touch!

All the while, that gorgeous golden cross was bouncing around your neck for all the world to see. And it did. Hehehehehehehehehehehe They talked about it for days! And I, of course, had to whisper in their ears about how they would never want to go to church and associate with those kinds of people, now would they? "Hypocrites! All of them!" Hehehehehehehehehehehehe

Such a stressful day....but then you got to go out to eat that night. So much better, right?

You were in such a snippy mood. The kids were acting up and you were not happy.

So you took it out on the waitress.

"The rolls aren't hot enough." "The drinks are flat." (Not really.) "The service is slow." (Not her fault - the kitchen is backed up.) "Where's my meal?" (Um. In the kitchen.) "Why can't you get the order right? No, I am quite sure I did NOT say I wanted mashed potatoes - I want fries!" (Nope, you said mashed potatoes.) "How many times do I have to tell you that I want DIET soda?" (You didn't say "diet".) "Why did you have to sit us near that noisy table?" (Like it's her fault - she didn't seat you. The hostess did.) "Where's our check?"

(In reality, the service, the food and the waitress would have been quite fine any other night, but you were having a bad day and needed a scapegoat.)

So, what do you do? You leave a tract....but no tip. (Where do you think that tract is going to end up? Yep, in the "circular file" - the trash can. Hahahahahahahahaha!) And the waitress told EVERYONE on the wait staff what happened. (Including showing them the tract - and throwing it away in front of everyone.)

By my calculations, you have made 47 people less receptive to the Gospel today.



With a title like "The Power of the Cross," I am sure this is NOT what you thought this article was going to be about. Surprise! The "power" I speak of in this article is the care we must use in our actions when we openly display a sign of our faith. (And other times, of course.)

1 Corinthians 8:9 says, "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." (This speaks of eating food sacrificed to idols.) Verse 13: "Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."

1 Corinthians 9:19: "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible."

Paul is speaking about some of his specific rights as a Christian in these chapters, but I want to focus on the more general message he is trying to convey.

Paul was very concerned about how his actions affected the faith of those around him, watching him. Over and over, he emphasized how he would humble himself in situations so as to not destroy the witnessing he was doing for Christ, even when what he wanted to do was not a sin. As he said, it is better to never eat meat again than to eat it and destroy the faith of a weaker Christian.

I feel this is even more important when we are around people in public. I am not saying that I have never shown by bad side in public, but I will say that God has really spoken to me on this subject. (I have four kids. There are times they can try your patience, especially in public. And patience is NOT one of my virtues. Ask my mom.)

I will never forget an incident that happened a few years ago. I was at the store with 3 of the 4 kids. One was sick (ear infection). She was incredibly whiny because of this.

The wait in line was LONG. VERY slow. I had a whiny, sick child and 2 others that I was trying to tend to. I kept calm (even when I knew others were wacthing me - she was really being annoying). We got home and I promptly forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I was in the same store (no kids), waiting in line. (Same cashier, too. VERY slow.) I was chatting with the man behind me in line to pass the time. Suddenly, he said, "You are the lady with the little girl a few weeks ago, aren't you?"

I laughed and said, "Yes!" I recognized him as being behind me in line that day.

He said, "I was really impressed with how calm you stayed with your daughter that day. You didn't even raise your voice!"

I chuckled and explained how she was sick and is normally not like that, so I was a lot more patient than I usually would have been with that kind of thing.

He just looked at me for a minute and said, "You are a good mom."

It brought a tear to my eye.

God had already being speaking to my heart about how my actions and attitude affected others, but that brief exchange brought the message home.

I am not saying to let people walk all over you. But there is a way to get your point across and not hurt other people.

So be aware, be gentle, and be a witness.

-----Shay :o)

No comments: