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Monday, May 21, 2012

Who Stands for Christ?

My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations; Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing. James 1:2-4

Picture this:

You are one of the first to enter a room for a gathering. You select a half-empty table where some acquaintances are already situated and sit down. It's a warm day so you hang your suit jacket from the back of the chair. You place your books and iPad/notebooks in front of you and prepare for any business during the gathering. After quickly getting a cup of coffee, you sit and chat with your acquaintances at the table for a while. While the room quickly fills it is announced the snack/appetizer table is ready and everyone lines up. You purposely wait for everyone else to go to be polite although as the last person there, there is almost no food left. No problem! You head back to your seat with a few carrot sticks and another gentleman is in your seat (with your jacket, books, and full cup of coffee all still present). Does he give back your seat when you ask him to? NO! In fact, he's quite adamant with a "so what" attitude, profusely exuding an indifferent rudeness. (A mild answer breaketh wrath: but a harsh word stirreth up fury. Prov 15:1) What do you do?

This is the actual scenario I had to live during the most recent gathering with my Dominican brothers and sisters yesterday. What did I do? Well after muttering how “rude and uncultured” he was, I quietly slipped away. That is, “quietly” on the outside. Inwardly, there was a great maelstrom of anger in my heart and mind. I was aghast that such behavior was presented by a Dominican and a Catholic. In a timely obsession I contemplated this unabashed display of rudeness. What had I done and why would someone treat me like that? In my mind, the focus shifted from me to God. Quite simply, rudeness is an outward display of disrespect to God. The Bible is full of examples of this. Sitting relatively isolated in a newly located chair, I (slowly) came to the realization that my seat-stealing adversary was far from being the lone empty vessel of Christian virtue. I was put to the test just as much as he was. And I failed…miserably.
But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. Luke 6:27
No matter how I behaved outwardly, my initial reaction was to be angry and even mean. I had no love or immediate forgiveness for this man and he wasn’t even my enemy; I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know me enough to hate me. Jesus’ words above are one of the many examples of the challenge He conveys to us when following Him through that narrow gate. By staying true to His Word and following him, we also stand with him. Where did I stand for Christ in this?

When I left my meeting, the anger in my head had dissipated but my heart was still clouded with it and that bothered me. Praying during my long drive home, my anger actually turned to sadness and a slight frightened feeling. Sitting at the table throughout the before mentioned episode were the gentlemen I had been conversing with. They sat there not as only mute witnesses to the dreadful situation, but with disturbing grins as if it were funny. Did they think it was funny or were they simply uncomfortable? Did they not want me there or were they lacking some kind of fundamental courage? The answers don’t really matter. What was saddening was the realization how difficult it was for anyone to at least voice what is right let alone stand up for it. Why is this sad and frightening? It hit me hard; if Dominicans can’t speak up in what is really a juvenile, silly affair, how are they ever going to stand up for Christ? I have since been pretty disheartened in the belief we are in bad shape!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for thinking this through and posting.

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