"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Friday, July 1, 2011

Don't Flip the Bird While Sporting the Fish..... (Seriously, DO NOT)

"Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him."
~C.S. Lewis

" Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others"
~Philippians 2:3-4

“Some people think that God peers over the balcony of heaven trying to find anybody who is enjoying life. And when He spots a happy person, He yells, ''Now cut that out!'' That concept of God should make us shudder because it's blasphemous!”
~Paul Little

I was driving around town doing errands the other day. The Trader Joe's parking lot was complete mayhem. There was a primo parking spot, and two cars went to pull in at the same time. I noticed one car had several "Christian" stickers affixed to the bumper, one of which was the well-recognized "Jesus fish".

Unfortunately, fish-sticker man didn't get the spot.

He proceeded to "flip the bird" to the other driver (An elderly woman, it seemed to me she realized neither her "mistake" nor her impending fate) screamed something to her that I couldn't understand, and laid on the horn. The woman looked up, appeared startled, and fish-sticker man sped away, off to find another victim...er....parking spot.

Sad, right?

It occurred to me later that day- I so often do practically the same thing. I struggle with various versions of that same story in my life. Oh, I'm careful not to attach any bumper stickers to my car (Or my person for that matter) but most people who know me are aware that I am a Christian. So when I have a bad attitude, lack integrity, behave in a hypocritical fashion, or act in manner that is rude or unkind to the people around me, I pretty much do the exact same thing that fish-sticker man was doing.

That grieves me. Truly.

And yet, I struggle with that very thing. I strive against selfishness, against pride, against critical thoughts. But....but....they are old friends. Enemies actually, but familiar. And hard to shake.

I don't want to leave anyone startled and confused about who God is. I want them to know more about who He is because I act in a way that represents Him. If you are a Christian, this should concern you as well- we don't want to mix people up by professing one thing and living another. We don't want to preach a God that saves and is Holy and just- and then be mingling our nit-picky pet peeves with God's truths. We shouldn't gossip about people and then act nice to their face (UGH I struggle with this sometimes). We can't only love people who are EASY to love, we need to love everyone. (To be honest, I want to type "pretty much everyone". There are people that are hard to love. People who are hard to know HOW to love. What to do when they're not lovable people..... and yet, still, we need to try.) (I don't like that, by the way.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is, realize what you've been given. What we have all been forgiven. Be changed by that. Treat other people differently because of that.

....I am going to do that too. And guess what- I am going to mess up. Lots. So will you.

But that's okay. We'll dust ourselves off, take a deep breath, and do the next right thing. We'll keep trying to care about, in a practical way, the people that God has created.

That, my friends, is better than a convenient parking space.

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