I rarely know what my day will look like when I roll out of bed. Some days I think being an accountant, a tolltaker, an umpire, mail carrier or bagger would be better. But then again, I bet they get bored with routine.
I had four notable interactions Wednesday:
I spoke with Jim by phone. He started off telling me that he had just prayed to Satan and that I had a chance to make it so he wouldn’t do it again. All I needed to do was pay a bill for him and that would prove to him that God was real. If I didn’t, he was heading back to chat it up some more with the Prince of Darkness and make a deal with him. Jim was clearly desperate. He had run out of options and was willing to “sell his soul” for a couple hundred dollars. I wasn’t really sure what to do for Jim. I told him that from what I know about Satan is that he would be glad to make a deal. And what I know of God is that He’s not into making deals; He’s into giving gifts. Jim had to run so our conversation got cut short. It was a strange call.
“How do you get someone to see that what she perceives as her strengths are really her largest weaknesses?” The topic was leadership. Her boss had been treating her with no respect and simply using her as an employee. I had no answers.
“The pastor’s daughter got pregnant and had an abortion. He’s being told to resign and leave quietly because of it.” Woah! What? I felt myself getting angry at yet another church that was about to spit out their pastor and his family because they didn’t measure up. The young pastor on the phone was looking to me, a mentor, for guidance. Initially he was angry that the church was not being told why. He was leaning toward the judgmental side saying, “How can he just get away with this and go to another church without them knowing about him?” My heart broke for this pastor and ached for his daughter who undoubtedly was bearing the weight of her dad getting fired in addition to the scars she already wore. “Is anyone talking about Jesus in this mess?” My question set my young friend on his heels. “Is anyone talking about forgiveness and loving this family; this girl?” No, they were too busy swinging their selfrighteous swords. Why is it, in the Christian faith, we tend to shoot our wounded?
I spent about an hour online talking to a man I had had as a student about 20 years ago. It was nice to reconnect. After talking about sports, weather, jobs and all the regular topics I dropped the bomb. “What do you think about church? Do you go anymore?” He had brought up the topic by talking about my current ministry and reminiscing about the youth program he was in. I stared at the screen. Nothing. I worked to soften the blow by telling him about my coursework and my study of why people give up on church and asked for his opinion. His story was familiar. He had no interest in a religious code and was tired of not being accepted in churches unless he “played the game.” I thanked him, apologized for the games and reminded him that Jesus was more interested in a relationship with him than he was of taking attendance at religious services. I hope we will talk again soon.
I listened to Perry Noble by podcast yesterday as I rode my bike. His challenge to pray, “Lord, make us dangerous,” struck a chord with me. When I am more passionate about Jesus than I am about church systems, I begin to discover what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ.