Who’s the Stupidest?

24 09 2007

We say we want an end to war, but yet we are at war with our brothers, sisters, neighbors.  We say we want an end to injustice while dealing unjustly with others.  We say we want others to respect us while showing no respect.  We want others to hear us out but keep your opinions to yourself.

We are a culture of profound contradictions.  Perhaps a primary problem posed by the way we conduct ourselves is that we are constantly interjecting ourselves into the lives of others without knowing the full story.  Let me give you an example.

During my wife’s long hospitalization I ate more hospital food then I ever care to see again for the rest of my life.  One day as I was preparing to pay, I realized I’d left my money sitting in a bank envelope far beyond my reach at that time.  I had only a few dollars in my pocket.  The cashier kindly allowed me to park my tray and make a quick run to the bank machine just outside the cafeteria.  A stodgy older woman in a heavy black fur coat and a big furry black hat was standing near the cashier as this occurred.  The next think I knew, I saw her walking towards me as I entered my PIN for the necessary cash release.  She was mumbling something about how technology had ruined our society, and then blurted out to me, “Be a man, carry cash!”  I was nearly dumbfounded.  Nearly.  It was one of those moments when 5 or 6 different comments came to my mind, none very becoming of a minister.  I simply turned to her and said, “It’s really none of your business.”  She huffed and walked away.

In the coming days, I seemed to spawn an endless flow of potential retorts I could have used.  Been there?  My favorite comeback idea would have been, “Mam, does this approach really work for you?  I mean, do you approach people and tell them how to live and find that they immediately change to suit your whims?”  Oh well. 

This lady must have thought she knew my type or something.  She must’ve believed she had me all figured out.  In fact, she didn’t have a clue.  I quite certainly would have prefered to have the cash I’d left behind.

And this…  this is how far too many of us deal with others.  In the few seconds that we have to sum up a stranger’s life, we pass quick judgements and make snap proclamations.  There are none exempt from this.  I speak from a Christian perspective (I guess), but this truth applies to anyone from any walk of life.  We are all quick at believing that we understand another person completely.  “I’ve seen his type before!”

The word of warning to the non-Christ follower would be, don’t think you can sum up all Christians based on your narrow range of encounters in a wide world of variation.  Likewise, Christians should be slow to sum up those whose actions dismay us based on a one time encounter. 

Have you ever made a stupid mistake in traffic to have some other driver honk and flip you off?  As if they’d never done anything stupid?!?!  How quick we are to get angry at the transgressions of others forgetting that we do just as many stupid things in the course of our own life.  That’s why the Jesus principle is to be forgiving to an ridiculous degree.  That way we’re covered when we need to be forgiven to a ridiculous degree.  And a life lived in sacrificial love and forgiveness and humility tends to bring out the dignity in others.  It also surreptitiously allows us to preserve our own dignity and better represent Christ to a world that has seen too many bad pictures of Him.




One response

24 09 2007

great thoughts. I was scanning through blogs and found yours. it reminds me of the unfortunate truth behind the brennan manning quote that ‘the single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him with their lifestyle.” hypocrisy can be eliminated in our selves by our honest relationship with God.

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