Tuesday, October 16, 2007

BJ and me at my father's grave in Wisconsin.

I received a letter this week from a lady in Missouri who was from a church where I recently spoke. Among other things, she was conveying a story of a dear family in her church who had been touched by tragedy.

A son from this family was found murdered in a local park. Dealing with the fall-out of such a thing is not easy to comprehend. The tangled web of the life he led came to light at the worst possible time for his mother. Trying to deal with death amid a fractured life is never easy. To add into the equation her other son being in prison and the family being broken and of little means, only made survival that much more difficult.

How do we deal with death? How do we deal with life? What allows one to cope under such dire circumstances, when most of us struggle to deal with minor irritations at home or work? Where do we turn when things fall apart so dramatically?

For too many of us, we only turn to the Lord for these emergent purposes. Most of our lives are spent on pursuits and desires that reflect who we really are, and then when tragedy strikes, we become 'suddenly spiritual.'

In the last couple of weeks or so I was struck by conversations of others. Some occurred in airports, and some in restaurants. All were public and on display.

What captured my attention was how divergent the conversations and actions were from the apparent "religious roots" of those who were involved.

When I travel alone, I watch people. I learned this from my mother. She loves to watch people. When I am by myself, my intent is not to eavesdrop. However, with little else (other than books) to occupy me in those moments of 'in between,' my attention is easily drawn to the activities and conversations of others.

This is not intended to be an indictment of women, but for some reason, there were groups of them around where I was traveling. The same kinds of things happen when groups of men gather.

The "stuff" of their conversations and the attitudes they had on display were anything but Christ exalting. The language they used, the topics of conversation and the sometimes hostile approach of dealing with one who was not present, was discouraging. Beyond this, the thing that startled me (and this will sound judgmental) was how in one moment they were sharing in this fashion, and then in the next, they were corporately praying.

Along the same lines was another interaction I witnessed while waiting to board a flight. Similar corrupted conversation stood in stark contrast to the reading material being carried by those involved.

I am not pointing a finger without understanding that I am guilty of this same behavior (perhaps these were even seeking a relationship with the Lord through their choice of reading material).

How often do we involve ourselves in activities and conversations that are harmful to our witness, and then try to Christianize it all with prayer or reading of religious material?

We are doing more harm than we realize.

Those watching and listening that are not believers do not want anything to do with our hypocrisy. When the attitude of our lives do not match up with the worship of our hearts, God is not pleased.

We are all flawed and it's by grace that we are saved. However, we must be more aware of the words that leave our lips, the attitudes we openly display and what impact they have on those listening and watching...both those we are aware of and those we aren't.

It the people we are when tragedy strikes is different than who we are everyday, a change is in order.

Only God can help make it happen.



At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, we are all flawed sinners...
God Bless,
Greenfield, Indiana

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Marti Pieper said...

You are right again: only God can make it happen. Without Him, we constantly fall into the Enemy's trap of somehow wanting to flaunt our religiosity without the fruit that comes from genuine relationship.

Hmmm. Maybe that's why Jesus always had such a difficult time with the religious leaders. But somehow, He loved so much that He died for ALL--and I'm grateful.

with tender love
and prayers in pink,



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