A week or two ago, I was sitting in my idling car while my GPS was loading. I had driven into Takoma Park to ship something at the post office and was now attempting to go somewhere else, hoping there was a shortcut I didn’t know about. As the “Garmin” screen lingered on my device, I noticed a harmless looking man, mid- to late-thirties, walk up the sidewalk behind me, go out of his way to look at something on the back of the car behind me, and then sit down for a moment on a bench. He sat there for a couple of minutes, while I was still trying to get my GPS to load so I could get those directions. After several minutes, he got up to continue walking on the sidewalk that I was parked next to, only he stopped at my car and tapped on the window. The guy was wearing jeans and a hipster t-shirt with fake aviators, so while I most definitely was NOT about to roll down the window, I also wasn’t throwing my car into gear and speeding off.
Him: “You know your car is idling?”
Me: “Uh, yea, I’m in it.”
Him: “You should turn it off while you’re texting.”
Me: “Um, this is a GPS device and I’m about to leave. Thanks, though.”
Him: “You should turn the car off. You’re polluting! Just turn the car off. It’s illegal to idle in DC anyway because of the pollution.”
Me: “Okay, wow. I’m sure DC would rather me idle than ‘text’ and drive. But guess what? This isn’t DC, you’re not the cops, and I’M ABOUT TO DRIVE AWAY. Thanks, though.”
Him: “Just turn your car OFF. You’re polluting!”
Me: (exasperated) “Great! Thanks, buh-bye.”
So this guy basically harasses me with his concern for the Earth that he clearly values more than human relationships. He never once smiled, used tact, or tried to connect with me in a way that would endear me to him and his cause. (PETA- take note.) Instead of turning my car off, I did the mature thing and revved the engine as he walked away.
As I was reviewing the scene in my head and relating it to Dane, it dawned on me just how similar this situation and the entire Christian movement is. Instead of relating to people and connecting with individuals, Christians notoriously brow-beat people about doing this or not doing that, but they don’t take the time to get to know someone and establish a relationship before they start asking for something in return. The whole point of Christianity is for Jesus to change people for the better, not so that His “followers” can make others feel less than worthy because of their actions. Church and Christ are for the broken, not for those who think they’ve got it all figured out.
Fortunately, there are those Christians who don’t treat people this way. There are those who follow Christ’s example of acceptance and are simply vehicles for His love, so that Jesus is the only one making any judgements (ultimately, anyway). Wouldn’t it be amazing if Christians became known for being loving instead of being known for their hate?
I’m currently reading “Love Wins” by Rob Bell, which has its fair share of criticism. I figure if something gets as criticized as this book has been, Rob is either doing something very wrong, or he’s doing something so right it makes the self-righteous uncomfortable. So far, it seems to be the latter. (Thanks to college, it takes me a while to get through books I read for fun due to the books I read for the BETTER life I BETTER get for that piece of paper at the end of all this.) (So basically it may take me a while to report on “Love Wins”.)