Monday, September 20, 2010

Follow-up to "Character Matters"

by My Anonymous Friend

Last week I received more emails in response to last Sunday's writing on character issues than any I have received previously. I find this very interesting. … One person shared an interesting story confirming my comments about people in ministry expecting or demanding preferential treatment. This person told how a musical group insisted on traveling first class by aircraft and insisted on certain kinds of food to be delivered to their luxury hotel rooms. So sad to read these kinds of stories.

All week I have been thinking about why this email appeared to generate more interest than others I have written. My conclusion is that you long for authenticity and genuine humility as much as I do. Since my writings each week are read by people in various continents of the world, I very rarely ever write about political issues that may be of interest to me but not to those in other parts of the world. However, the matter of character most certainly applies in this realm of our society as well. I find that I tend to let the words of politicians go "in and out of my ear." I realize I am "painting with a broad brush" and that there are of course sincere, committed, public servants who stand on principle and core values. I know such people as well and I am grateful for them. But, others campaign and say one thing. Once elected, they often demonstrate something entirely different. I pay little attention to what they say. I can confess to you that when I hear some politicians on TV, I either switch stations or hit the "mute" button. I try to pay a lot of attention to what they do however. That shows me what they really believe regardless of what they might say. I have heard people say over the years that they would rather see a sermon lived than to hear one. I think this is the same principle but in the church context not in the political arena.

All this supports perfectly the concept that Jesus expressed when He said that people would know we are Christians by our love! Once a man said to me, "I am not religious, but if I ever decided to be, I would join......! (certain cult). They at least take care of people." I was saddened to hear him mention a cultic group. Why did he not say that about the church or group with which I identify? Maybe he saw us fighting and squabbling too much and about peripherals no less. I wonder?

I have long liked the thoughts recorded in 1 Corinthians 8:1. Paul writes that knowledge makes arrogant but love builds up. I am ashamed when I think of welcoming cultists into my home at times and then trying to argue them into my way of seeing things. I doubt whether they saw much of a Christ-like spirit in me. I also doubt seriously that they were drawn to explore the truths of Christianity because of my persuasive arguments. Once after a cultist expounded to me all the things that the Bible teaches in its original languages, I handed my Greek New Testament to him and asked him to show me from that text what he was talking about. Of course he did not know the Greek alphabet much less any of its vocabulary. All I probably did was embarrass him in front of people he was mentoring in his beliefs. I felt like a proud peacock with my "superior" knowledge, but in truth I was a stupid Pharisee for doing what I did. I never do that anymore but instead try to have some literature of my own to give them in exchange for what they wish to give me. Rarely do they accept it but that is their choice. I receive what they have to give me and thank them for making the effort. I then hope for an opportunity to also tell them just a bit more about who Jesus really is, for example.

So, I am glad that many of us think the same way here. Let us pray that we will live our lives in such a way that people may be drawn to God and seek to glorify Him.

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