Christians are wonderful people. Yes, we are. We love sharing our faith. We take classes on how to present the Gospel to an uncivilized world: those pumping gas at the Thrif-Tee convenience store; those standing in line waiting for the price check to come through at Kroger; those stuffing coins into the dryer at the Suds-O-Matic. We know every short cut through Wal-Mart to head off those attempting to escape our, "Do you know Jesus?" opening line. It's incredible how much preachin' you can get done while locking yourself inside your neighbor's bathroom. My favorite trick? Answer the telephone. When the solicitors try to tell you about their products and services, turn the tables. Start with Matthew and end with Revelation. They'll be bawlin' and prayin' like a politician at a filibuster.
You can tell who the Christian drivers are by the bumper stickers on their vehicles—if you can manage to read them as that Christian driver blasts by you going 85 in a 65 mph zone: KPRA 9420 AM. FOLLOW me to The Smiling Mighty Jesus of the Virgin Mary Holiness Bapticostal Revival Center. 1-800-MEET-GOD. OKJC 3300 AM. God Loves You. Jesus is my Co-Pilot. (This one I have never understood. Personally, I'd rather HE be driving this jalopy, not me.) You can also tell the driver is a Christian by the way he/she uses the blinker. We always blinker with Christian love. Praise. Blink. Jesus. Blink. Then over we move, ready or not. Just call us Moses in the sea of vehicles.
It's not as if the Christian driver is speeding, per se. No, they're probably hurrying to get the fresh-out-of-the-oven casserole to the newly bereaved person's house before it cools off. (The casserole, not the. . .well, um. . .anyway. Death is serious business in the church.) I tell you, a good Christian woman can make a casserole big enough to feed twelve parishioners with every food group included using nothing more than a bag of Fritos corn chips, a can of squirt Velveeta and a dried up onion. We are anointed cooks and bakers. Why do you think we insist on sturdy wooden pews instead of those rinky-dink plastic chairs in our sanctuaries? Hm?
We do a lot of "blessing", as well. We can do that, being filled with the Holy Spirit, and all.
"Did you see Suzanne Rayette at the ice cream social last week? I told her not to perm her hair again so soon. It's a pity the ceiling fan got tangled up that way. Bless her little heart!"
"Sister Geraldine's daughter's skirt was so short at choir practice Brother Edgar Francis had a spell while trying to direct the seventeenth verse of Just As I Am. They had to call the paramedics to get him up off the floor. Lord, have mercy!"
"Brother Alfred and Brother Wyatt decided to Come Out together. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Hate the sin, love the sinner, but. . . . Jesus, Mary and Joseph!"
"Great Aunt Fanny Mae is making her infamous asparagus and chicken liver soufflé for Sunday's pot luck lunch. Target is out of Rolaids. Heaven help us all!"
We like to set a shining example for those not as. . .religious. . .as we are. My friend Bunny Jo has her routine down pat. "I get up at four thirty every morning of the week to read three books of the Bible, pray unceasingly for two hours while down on my knees, of course. Sunday I attend Sunday School, the worship service, come back for Bible study at four o'clock, attend the Sunday evening worship service. Monday I distribute the sanctuary flowers to those in the hospital and nursing homes. Tuesday I'm Team Leader in the Visitation Squad. Wednesday I serve the church meal then attend Bible study at six followed by choir practice at seven. Thursday I host the youth group's evening get together. Friday I accompany the Seniors to their Holy Rollers bowling club. Saturday I chaperone the newly-engaged couples on their dates so things don't get out of hand, if you catch my drift. Why, honey, I'm too busy doin' the Lord's work to actually sin!" Tiny cough. "And what did you do last week?"
"What? Who, me? No, I'm afraid not," I respond. It goes downhill from there. You see, I'm a dirty sinner just like everybody else—if they're honest with themselves. I don't make it to church every time the doors are open. I'm not even sure when some of the services are. I consider talking about Jesus and God with my patients and their families to be a great worship experience. We have raised the rafters with Angels Watching Over Me.
The only bumper stickers I have on my Kia are the ones thanking the Navy SEALs for catching Osama bin Laden and the heart-shaped sticker painted like a Texas flag. (I did buy one at the latest Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference held a few weeks ago at Ridgecrest, North Carolina just outside of Asheville. The sticker is white, oval, has a big R C with RIDGECREST — NORTH CAROLINA written beneath it. Soon as I scrape the inch and a half thick grime off the back of my sporty little SUV I'll attach it.)
I do my best to follow the speed limit. It's not uncommon for me to be the slowest driver on the road. The other day I swear I saw Great Aunt Fanny Mae passing me pushing her walker as I drove down I-10 toward Houston.
Me? Bake a casserole? Not hardly. I don't recall which way to turn the knobs on the stove to get the oven to fire up. Fortunately for me the girls at the Jack In The Box drive thru window know my voice and what I'm going to order before I do. Isn't that amazing? It's a flat-out miracle from God.
There is one thing I'm proud of (Isn't there something in the Bible about pride going before a fall?): I am not a C.A.T.S. I read an article on Yahoo! internet. Disgusted restaurant servers from all over the United States said the same thing in the article, so it has to be true, right? We Christians show up after church all dressed in our Sunday "goin' to Meetin'" finery. We bring the kids, the grandkids, the neighbors along the street. Sometimes we invite those poor men we see adding two entire cups of laundry detergent to their one washer load of clothes from down at the Suds-O-Matic. We enjoy altering the menus at least twice then take our long, leisurely, lovely time to devour those meals. We get refills on our drinks, to-go boxes. We leave the tables looking as if bombs have gone off. Then what do we do? We don't tip worth being a Pharisee. In fact, we don't even tip a tithe's percent to the servers who took care of us for those two hours. No wonder we have significantly bad reputations: Christians Against Tipping Servers.
So? How am I different? When I go out to eat, I always tip a minimum of twenty percent, unless the service was incredibly bad. Then I tip fifteen percent. After all, we all have THOSE DAYS, don't we? I know I sure do! These people probably make minimum wage and count on tips to pay their bills, feed and clothe their children and put gas in their vehicles. Just like I depend on my paycheck. They deserve something. I also straighten up the table so they don't have to clean up my sloppy mess. For example, I went to a family-style restaurant for my one meal today—I cut it in half so it's two meals—if I don't eat again before breakfast, it will be my morning repast. The server was friendly and attentive. I gave. . .hang on, let me get my Smart Phone. . .where is that calculator?. . .I am nearly 53 dad-gum years old...how do they expect me to work this stupid. . .aha. . .twenty two percent tip. I wanted to tell the young man, "See? Not all Christians are C.A.T.S." Meow.
Am I "holier than thou?" Duh. No. Am I trying to "be a better Christian" than the group of eight I saw to the left of me today? I couldn't if I tried. I didn't even go to church today. In fact, until I told Sherry, only God knew I did it. Why tell all y'all? I don't know. I feel silly saying anything. But maybe if we "pass on the blessing(s)" as we're told, Christians won't have such bad reputations. Leave an extra quarter. An extra dollar, if you have it. Who knows? That server you tipped might end up at your church. Wouldn't that be neater than reruns of the classic Davy and Goliath Sunday morning kids' program! (Google it, you infants, you!)
I am beyond relieved God doesn't measure our "religiousness" by how many times we attend church every weekend or how many casseroles we bake using a bag of Fritos corn chips and dead vegetables. He doesn't care if we have the Christian radio station's bumper sticker on our vehicles. I doubt He takes out His iPhone to calculate how much we tip the harried server at Cracker Barrel. I'm willing to bet even He would gag on Great Aunt Fanny Mae's infamous asparagus and chicken liver soufflé. What God cares about is if we love Him. Because if we love Him we will obey Him in everything (that's the goal), worship Him, serve Him, honor Him, praise Him forever, Amen. Thank You, Father, for loving me Just As I Am.
Hang on, there's the doorbell. Oh, NO! It's Great Aunt Fanny Mae and she's carrying a covered casserole dish. Lord, have mercy!
Until next time, may you be filled with God's tender mercies.