Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Permission to speak, permission to discriminate

Hi guys, Fred here. Again. So soon.

I usually write these things when something inspires me. And something did a week ago that had humorous overtones and yet the Spirit of Jesus used it to address something deep inside me.

I had a late afternoon appointment so chose to get my regular exercise walk in earlier, just after lunch. I have a regular route – past the Sydney domain, through the Botanic Gardens, and around the Opera House. Yes, yes. I know I’m privileged!

Anyway, as I came round the Opera House at the point where the pathway is at its narrowest there were four adults walking in the same direction as me, completely blocking my (faster) progress. I registered that frustrated annoyance that often is there when someone is blocking my way. I began to think uncharitable thoughts – “people just don’t think!” – etc etc and wondered about which sarcastic tone I could use as I come up to them. “Excuse me please”, or “Excuse me please”, or “Excuse me, please”. Or perhaps I should rudely charge through.

Just as I prepared for verbal action, the foursome dissolved and through the abundant space I went. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

When I was about 15 metres ahead I heard a very un Australian voice call “FRED!” It registered but I ignored it and kept going. Went further ahead and again that foreign voice called “FRED!” I still ignored it, and then thought, from 40 metres away that it couldn’t have been a coincidence. Stopped, looked around, and to my amazement the four were people I knew, and had met, at a Wedding in Southern Brazil 16 months ago!

Joyful reunion. Celebration! Handshakes and Hugs in a traditional Brazilian manner. Eight others, most of whom I knew, were around the corner sitting on the Opera House steps.

Beyond that celebration?

1. Relief that I hadn’t made a right royal ugly goose of myself before these gracious joyful people
2. More importantly, I was suddenly very aware that I was possessed of an ugly double standard. Do I know you? When I know you I will go out of my way to be gracious and polite, careful and considerate. Should I not know you? I give myself permission to be aggressive and demanding, sarcastic and impatient.

The discovery of this, or rather the revelation of this, has caused a repentance in me. A sadness for what I have been doing – and a sadness that I carry the name of Jesus so poorly. Imagine, for a moment, that I’d behaved as I’d decided to do, and they my friends, who knew I was a Christian (yes, even a Pastor) would wonder what sort of a Lord I represent and serve.

Sharing this with you

I’m sharing this because I wonder if others of you know the same internal double standard and misbehaviour. It certainly is me – maybe its all of us. We know how to perform, to be who we want to be perceived to be, - but sin remains!

It takes the Spirit of Christ, working through Jesus’ life, words and example to convict us.

It often takes a specific situation like the one I was involved in to make us aware. It takes the Word to speak forgiveness to us.

It takes the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit to enable us to walk and live in Jesus' steps.

And remember

Repentance also includes renouncing the permissions! Always.

May your week be grace filled.

We have a Lord!

- Pastor Fred

A big PS – I give you permission to use any of these “Cross Purposes” for any sharing of the gospel you are doing!

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