Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What a Wake Up Call

     This morning, a patient came in for a repair on their glasses.  She had just been to the grocery store and told me a story that could well serve as a wake-up call for Christians.  While she was shopping, she overheard a person berating one of the assistant managers for something which they had failed to do for her.  The encounter lasted just a brief moment, but she said she could see the crest fallen look in the young man's eyes as the angry customer departed.  At that moment, she went up to this young man and gave him a hug.  She told him his day would get better starting right now and that he should put this incident out of his mind for the rest of his day.  I remarked that I thought her action was kind and appropriate after witnessing such an embarrassing display in the store.
     As we continued to talk, she said she wondered whatever happened to manners and kindness in our country.  She said she sees many people in our area attend church every Sunday, but the moment they step out of their building they seem to forget what is taught to them.  She has witnessed the same people walking out of church that go into stores complaining, whining and becoming angry over the smallest item.  Likewise, she said that Jesus had taught the "Golden Rule" about treating others as they wished to be treated.  Admittedly, she told me that she doesn't go to church much at all, but she said those who do are a poor example in their community.
     When she had finished, I felt as though a bucket of ice water had been poured over me.  It was a wake up call for all believers.  How do we behave when we step outside our church buildings during the week?  Are we kind, thoughtful, helpful, mannerly or do we display the pride of life and the arrogance of the world?  Evidently, this lady has seen some who call themselves by the name of Christian behaving as though they were not believers at all.
     In our Sunday school class, we are studying "The Sermon on the Mount" as our focus using Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' book on the subject.  Taking time to look in depth at the character of what a Christian is called to be is both challenging and eye-opening.  Each week, it becomes more evident that we need to fully depend on the Lord daily in order to reflect the Lord Jesus Christ to a world in need.  However, God has called us to give up self, serve others, reflect His glory, and be wholly different from the world in which we live.
     While thinking about the conversation I had this morning, several things stood out from what the woman said.  First, we need to be kind and courteous even when trying to make a point or correct a wrong.  There is no need for personal attacks.  A verse that came to mind was Philippians 2:3:  "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves."  If we cannot be civil in our encounters, others will never be drawn to the Lord.  Secondly, we must live out the Golden Rule in all our dealings.  This requires thinking before we speak or act on a matter.  What will the potential fall-out be if I do this or say that?  It is good to step back and consider if we are treating others the way we would like to be treated.  Hair trigger tempers and prideful speech can do a lot of damage which may never be repaired.  James tells us in chapter 1 verses 19-20:  "Know this my beloved brothers:  let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."  We can walk in the Golden Rule when we allow this good wisdom from James to fill our minds.  Finally, the lady mentioned seeing people leave church and later show up in stores where she shopped often displaying bad tempers.  The lesson here is that people are watching our conduct to see if we live what we say we believe.  Fair or not, this is how the world looks at Christians.  However, even if people are not watching us, the Lord is observing our behavior.    I take very seriously what Jesus said when He admonished us in Matthew 12:36-37:  "I tell you, on that day of judgment, people will give account for every careless word they speak for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
       I am very thankful that this lady came into our office today.   It served to remind me of why God put us here in this world.  He called us to be salt and light to those who are perishing.  We have "Good News" to share.  Our momentary irritations with others are just that...short lived.  However, the impression we make when we are out and about last for a long time.  Let us be careful then to walk in the holiness of God as His ambassadors to this world.  Think about this before going out tomorrow.  Remember to whom you belong and carry Christ with you all day long.  To Him be all honor, glory and praise!  Selah!

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