A couple of weeks ago I was sitting with a friend listening to her recount a situation at the bookstore she worked at. A man had walked in wanting to place a special book order, but since the associate whom he had formerly dealt with was out, she stepped in to help. Over the next 2 hours, as she tried to appease this man and help him with his order, it went from bad to worse.
The man was rude, irate and demanding, acting as if the whole world should revolve around him. The last straw came when he lost his temper and started telling her how “stupid” and “ignorant” she was for not being able to complete his order exactly as he wanted it. Needless to say by the time he left, she was not only exhausted, but also feeling pretty miserable about how she had been treated.
I was floored. Now ordinarily, I would simply chalk this up as another bad day in retail dealing with unreasonable customers. The only problem? This bookstore was a Christian bookstore, and this man was a pastor.
Actions Say Everything
I’ll be honest. I don’t put a Christian fish on the back of my car because sometimes I don’t drive in a very Christian manner (Only sometimes, I promise you I’m really a very good, safe driver for the most part. :p). Why? Because the last thing I want is someone going “hmph, and she calls herself a Christian.”
We need to understand that the moment we accept Jesus into our lives, every moment from then on out turns into an opportunity for us to either glorify Him, or embarrass Him. Yes, we make mistakes, but for the most part, I’m hoping all of us will choose the former.
Christians are funny people sometimes. We all intrinsically know that we must be on our best behaviour when a) at church, b) in a prayer meeting, c) at Bible Study or d) on a mission trip. But what about everywhere else? Does being a Christian only apply to those settings or is it something we’re supposed to be living out all the time?
Grace for the Masses
Our God is gracious and merciful. (Psalm 145:8) Most Christians are very good at acknowledging this fact, but we’re not always so good at passing it along. This is why situations like the above horrify me, because I doubt that it says anywhere in the Bible that the moment you receive grace, that makes you better than other people.
If we remember little else from the Bible, then we must remember this: it is not enough to hear God’s word, we must act on it. (James 1:22) Christians should NOT be known for causing porn viewing to increase at hotels when they’re gathered together for a convention, or for short changing and tipping poorly at restaurants on Sundays after church. How on earth is that supposed to give anyone a favorable opinion of Jesus?
License to Love
Jesus said it over and over again: Love others as you love yourself. (Mark 12:31) I think that when He said that, He wasn’t commanding us to conjure up an emotional response to every person we meet, but rather to act. If we are calling ourselves Christian, then let’s make a commitment to BE Christian everywhere we go.
Whether it’s with a particularly frustrating family member, or the waitress who can’t seem to bring us food on time, we always have a choice. We have been given more than just eternal life, we’ve been given a license to love, and I guarantee it’s not just for show, it’s meant to be used.
So I write today, to ask you to join me on this grace project. Look around you, on your campus, in your dorm, classroom, club… And ask yourself: Who here could use a little grace? And then, get to it!
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org