It’s late as I sit in front of the computer. I just got off the phone with my friend.
She called me–something she doesn’t normally do as she makes every effort to avoid actual phone conversation–and the frustration leaving her mouth left me breathless.
Her past is complicated. People tend to keep talking about it when other people remind them of it. It’s that vicious cycle of gossip in a small group of people. She managed to get caught unawares when the questions came, and she handled it, she said, as well as she could considering that, after all this time, people are still talking.
I reminded her that it’s just a couple of people. Even in the Garden of Eden, no one is perfect.
So when I stumbled upon a thread in a group about how Atheists are friendlier than Christians, I have to shake my head at it all. Even now as I sit in front of the computer, finding the quiet therapeutic, I now SEE:
- The person who says a church is unfriendly is actually observed as standing in the corner and looking unapproachable.
- The hurt person needs to deal with that hurt and work on forgiving, and letting go, so the church-hurt doesn’t change him.
- People are at different places in their journey. Even I am different now.
- People justify. My friend is a good example. How often do we press for the whole story when we should learn to step back, respect that person’s privacy, and learn to take hints? Unless we know the whole story, we are poor judges in a complex situation.
- Situations out of context. Ever overhear a conversation and misread the whole situation? Ever see someone act out of sorts, judge them, and then learn the whole story later much to your shame?
- Strong personalities. We all have something in our personalities that sets someone else off.
Lastly, not giving out grace when someone errs, but expecting others to instantly forgive us when we hurt them is hypocritical. Real hurts have happened in church. Real forgiveness has also occurred. I’ve met some bitter Atheists and some friendly ones. The same goes with Christians. Friendly people will make mistakes.
If you are a believer, here’s what you can do to be the hands and feet of Jesus:
- Be aware of your body language. Make eye contact. Smile at people. It’s amazing what a smile does to open doors.
- Extend yourself to asking the other person questions to learn who they are and where they are coming from.
- Sit next to someone new throughout the whole service.
My friend hung up. She talked about the situation for about two hours. S.M. had fallen asleep on the floor, and I didn’t wake him. I turned on the laptop and decided to share what God showed me through the eyes of another person.
Taking things out of context is like taking the Bible out of context–we need context to be better people.