Saturday, June 23, 2007

What a wonderful world????

I've got a mental list going. It's a list full of all the things I'm looking for to put in my house. It's not a particularly long list, and I'm in no hurry at all to get all the items - as I've told some, I've got a 30 year mortgage, I've got all the time in the world. It's just a list of things to keep my eyes peeled for when I drive past thrift stores, or a garage sale.

Last Friday, I saw one of those items. I've assumed that since I have a deck on my house, I'm duty bound to learn how to become a bbq grill kind of person. So when I drove past a garage sale and saw one, I stopped to look at it. At the time though, I was taking care of two little girls (ages 2 & 4) and that exact moment wasn't the best time to try and figure out purchasing it and getting it home. So I left it there, telling them I'd think about it, but honestly assuming that it would be gone before I had a chance to come back.

I drove past it for a week. A whole week this thing sat in the guys yard "FOR SALE" stuck on it, along with a very cheap price tag. It's only defect was that the handle to open the lid had broken off.

I'd talked myself out of it though (no matter how good the price, it was still larger than what I was looking for) (in case you're thinking it too, don't worry, my co-worker repeatedly told me such reasoning was dumb because cheap is cheap, who cares about size). But, today I drove by that same garage sale and saw they now had a bed for sale. I'm working on preparing my 3rd bedroom for a child and a bed to sleep in is pretty much #1 on the list. I stopped to look at the bed, and saw they wanted 30 bucks for the mattress/box springs, and 100 for the frame. They came over to talk to me and I told them what I was doing, why I was looking and that it was out of my price range (130 bucks for a bed?!?!... even if I were rich I wouldn't have bought it) and she began trying to 'deal' with me. Said she'd give me the mattresses for 15.

Her husband walked out the door and heard what I was doing, what I was looking for and completely surprised me.

This is the entire reason I'm telling the story, by the way.

This man, holding onto his beer, literally reeking with the scent of alcohol, gave me the mattresses for 15 dollars, said I'd need a night stand too so he led me to the 2 night stands he had for sale and told me to choose one, it would be free. Then walked me over to the videos and said "kids'll want to watch movies, do you see any you want" then proceeded to fill an entire video organizer with videos and then handed it (the videos AND the organizer) to me and said "take it, it's free". Through the whole encounter he was telling me it was for a good cause, and he was glad to help and if he saw anything else he thought I might could use, he'd let me know.

I went ahead and bought the grill, simply because I couldn't imagine not buying it from them now. And less than one hour later, they delivered the mattresses and the grill (at their own insistence - not my asking) to my door for me. They had also worked on the grill so it now had a very sturdy handle in place of the one that had broken.

I did find a spiritual application to what these people did, but it surprised me and certainly had me squinting at the implications of it. So my conclusion is a difficult one for me to accept so if you have any objection to it I'd like to hear it, because I'd really like to change my mind.

So here goes.

They loved. They were generous, kind, encouraging, selfless, giving, patient, happy, and gracious.

And as much as I hate to believe it, based on the Christians I've seen, and based on the worldly people I've seen, we all seem pretty equal. The only difference (keep in mind, I'm talking about the majority, not every single one) is that the Christians have been drawn by God and have accepted His salvation. The sinners just didn't accept.
I'd like to assume Christians are kinder, more loving, more generous, more selfless, but from the majority I've seen... they really aren't. Unsaved neighbors have taken my trash out for me. Unsaved neighbors have helped me move. Unsaved neighbors have helped me fix my car. Unsaved neighbors have helped me work on my house.
I'm not saying these are things Christians wouldn't do, but these unsaved neighbors don't hesitate like Christians (majority) do. Christians (majority) wait to be asked - my unsaved neighbors have just barged right in.

In my mind, scriptures like "a new creature in Christ" make Christians an entirely different breed, set apart from the world yes, but also infinitely better, kinder, imperfect perfection. But it's hard to correlate that when I'm surrounded by a world of sinners that are kinder, and more selfless than me. While this Christian (me) went to work, sinners everywhere just didn't show up to work and were willing to step into risky situations to rescue people during Monday's flood.
These sinners... they serve in law enforcement because they long to see justice. They serve in hospitals and nursing homes because they long to ease suffering and to help people. They serve in daycares and schools because they want to touch the lives of the children and shape the worlds future. They serve as firefighters because they long to protect and rescue those that have found themselves in situations where they cannot help themselves.
These sinners... are some really amazing people. They're just not going to Heaven.

I'm not trying to romanticize their situation or make it seem more noble than it is, really. I guess I just find what happened today as just one more example of... well, I don't know what yet.

Marks blog had a post that had a quote in it from another blog, and it just added fuel to the fire.

The quote:

It is important that we remember that the gospel is the gospel of the kingdom. It is not the gospel of the individual. Christ's message was not "Repent, and come into all the blessings of God." - though that is indeed the case - but, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." It is not a call to self-improvement, but a call for self-denial for a cause that is bigger than any individual.

I guess it all has set me to thinking.

I've heard, and understand the idea that it's not what we can do, but what God can do through us. And how by seeking God, rather than change, we find God and by finding God we become changed. But it's a hard thing to apply in my life.

And even after I apply it, will I really change into something that's better than the world? I really am beginning to question that. There are sinners that dedicate their lives to helping hurting people all around the world. Sinners that risk their own lives. Sinners that do more kindness with more selflessness, than I will probably ever even think of doing. But I will go to Heaven.

The whole gist of what I'm saying/thinking, the hard part to accept (at least for me) is this:

It doesn't seem that I'm going to be better than the world, I'm just going to be different.

And I wonder if that's really God's plan.

1 comment:

Mark H said...

I know loads of people who don't know Jesus who are wonderful, loving, caring, selfless, compassionate people. We can't claim exclusivity on what God put in all of our DNA!

But it is sad if ever church isn't one of the examplars IMHO. The transforming work of the Cross should release our ability to love if before it was bottled-up in any way.

And I do feel that we're called to reveal the love of our Heavenly Father - which is in a whole other ballpark to loving out of our own resources.

I don't know if you've read Bill Johnson's book When Heaven Invades Earth? The first chapter is called The normal Christian life and Bill opens by saying:

It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible.
It has been written into our spiritual DNA to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.

and closes with:

The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
Seek first the kingdom of God

You can read the entire chapter online by following the link I gave above. The story in that chapter continues to grip my heart.