Tuesday, November 14, 2006

That smile

Oh, that instant smile, that one that doesn't have anything to do with actual feelings, but gets there so quickly so that all may know how happy one is in the Lord. But there’s a difference between joy and being pleasant to people and greeting them with a smile – there is a big difference.

I greet people in a friendly fashion all the time. I may have just had it out with an employee or a boss or a friend or a sibling or…. But it is my job to be friendly. I may be aching with arthritis, in agony with a migraine or bothered by something more trivial, but there I am with a smile on my face. Yet that is not the same as joy. That’s not the same as what I experience in talking of my faith. That’s put on for the moment, rather than a part of my life.

Too often when people trying to convert me approach I see that instant smile. They look like a snake-oil sales representative looking for another sucker to fool. They ask, “Can I tell you about Jesus?” while not having any idea of who I am or what I believe. And when I hear them I cringe. Do they know or care that I’ve had a born again experience? Do they know or care that I’ve been ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the PCUSA? Do they know or care about anything other than approaching enough people or passing out enough tracts?

When I see that – I’m so nice – smile – I wonder if their faith is based on knowing that Jesus loves them and came to save the world or how many good deeds have I done today. I tend to suspect that the smile is more about counting how many people one has brought to Christ (or who have made a speech saying so whether or not they’ve learned anything about the one they claim to serve). The fact is no one can count how many they’ve brought to Christ. There are usually a number of steps along the way. And no one should claim that they’ve brought someone to Christ, for an example of why read Paul’s letter about those who claim they were brought by Apollo or Paul or someone else (I Corinthian 3). It is God who gives the increase, whether one of us waters and the other plants is irrelevant

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