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Saturday, February 4, 2012

You Know Nothing of The Book

At Terry's hardware anyone can come in the front door. It could be your new best friend or your worse enemy. Since Jesus requires us to love our enemies, and since the economy is in the tank, it doesn't much matter. You gotta love who's walking in the door. So when the new guy with the Romanian accent walked into the store, naturally, I was excited to see him. He had a balding head, with long grey hair on the sides. His face was dark and covered in a heavy beard. He was wearing a dirty, wife beater tank top. With a smile, I met him at the bolt aisle.
 "Where are you from?, I asked anticipating adventurous stories from his home land. Perhaps, a lover had led him to America, I thought. Could the promise of a better life have led him to the land of the free and  home of the brave? What is it like at his home. What does he like about the US?  What does he dislike about the US.? I am always ready people's stories of other far away lands, but I wasn't ready for this.
 " I am from Christain" he replied.
 Assuming he misunderstood me, I said, " I did not ask you what your religion was.
(I should have quit while I was ahead). I ask where you're from?"
"Lord Christ is a king of a kingdom, I am of that kingdom, therefore, I am from Christain." he stated. "do you know Lord Christ?
"Yes sir", I answered quickly. He looked me right in the eyes, and I will never forget this, pointing his finger in my face said, "I take one look at you and I know you nothing of the book."
    Stunned and shocked, I listened as he ranted about Levitical law. He asked biblical questions and demanded immediate responses. When I offered no quick answers, he would say "see you know nothing of the book". He said if I was a Christain, I would have long hair and beard. I thought that was funny since it took me years to overcome the bible-belt teaching you had to be clean cut, shaven, piercing free and tattoo free to be a Christain. Thank God for His grace and a church like the Rock, cause now I know better. He went on to say that " you can't read the bible like a novel. OK, I'll give him that one, at least not cover to cover as a novel. There are some great short stories. But when he said " you no go to church, you go to synagogue of Satan ", my love for my enemies was wearing thin. By the time he said, " one day you will hang your pastor by his tongue, the sky split open, it not be good for you", it had worn out. Finally, he left. I was exhausted. I quickly began analyzing the encounter.
 
Here is what I learned:

because you follow Christ expect some criticism. Even, no especially, from other "Christains".

knowing the bible is important.  There is always more to learn about the word of God, but I did know it well enough to know he was wrong. But what if I hadn't? Imagine the impact of this conversation without being armed with this knowledge. God looks at the heart, not the outside. That is biblical.  Lucky for him. Even though, I am not what you would call a handsome man, if one of us is going to hell over how we look, or how much hair we have, anybody's money is on him...bless his heart.

 knowing Jesus is more important. Thank God, His grace is not dependant on our understanding of scripture but on our relationship with Christ. Jesus is the word made flesh. Not the other way around. You must meet him before you can recognized him in the word. God does not love me more because I know more bible verses. The extension of God's grace towards me requires me to extend it towards others. Especially, to those who are hard to love. I am sure God has found me hard to love sometimes. It is why I still want to be this guy's friend.

Spiritual arrogance is ugly. I started to wonder if  I have come across to someone like this guy came across to me. I could think of once. It was to a pastor, I twenty some years his junior, questioned his character based on his marital status. I had just met him and he showed me grace in spite of my arrogance. We became friends. He taught me so much. So, being the slow learner I am, I recently called my customer my friend. He promptly told me, " I not your friend, I'm your brother not your friend." Here is the truth: I am his friend. He is just not my friend. I hope he gets over it but frankly that's his problem. Being friendly sets a tone. The more friendly you are, the less arrogant you appear. If our goal is to win those farthest from God to Christ, this is important. There are no words more beautiful than those of Christ to the would be stoned adulteress. "... where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you..." Until you get that,  I say with as much humility and humbleness as God will grant me, " you know nothing of the book, little of the kingdom, and less of the King. Until you get that you'll never pick up a cross to follow Him.
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