Maggie: I don't eat fish.
Scott: (my face now showing a puzzled look)
Maggie: It is because I work here and serve it all the time.I enjoy talking with the servers working in restaurants. Beyond just "How are you doing?", I often ask them about their favorites or seek recommendations for entrees. Such was the case last week in North Carolina, as our family sat down with friends at a place known for good seafood in Waynesville. The above dialog was just a portion of what we talked about, but I was fascinated by this specific response.
You can see the irony in her explanation. Could you imagine if persons in other professions made the same statements? What would we think about the dentist who doesn't practice brushing because she works with teeth all the time? What about the mechanic who doesn't maintain his car because he's around cars all day?
Of course, it is perfectly okay for Maggie to have opinions about fish. But what if the same logic was extended to someone in the church? What if the pastor responded to a question about the Bible with "I don't read it much because I am around it all the time"? Or worse, what about the church member who professes not to believe in Jesus because they're inundated by books, stories, and testimonies about him? Suddenly, the irony becomes tragic.
The truth is, Jesus doesn't want us to like him. Jesus is not content with us simply preferring God over a variety of options. The call of a Christian isn't about preferences or tastes. Jesus wants love. Love this is about total commitment. Love that is about practicing that which you believe. Jesus wants us to do the one thing: trust in God, above all else. This is the journey of discipleship. We are called to live so others would see in us a reflection of the One who made us. Could you imagine if, with our freedom, we chose to be counted as believers but denied practicing the stuff of our beliefs? The truth is, the world looks at the church and that is exactly what they see: people who attend and even serve a product that they themselves do not practice or even like! Mind you, this does not describe everyone, but it describes enough believers that the world has a difficult time being convinced otherwise. Instead, may they know we are Christians by our love. And our forgiveness. And our restraint. And our sharing. And our joy.
"By our purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness we have shown ourselves to be God's servants - by the Holy Spirit, by our true love" 2 Corinthians 6:6