Four or five years ago we ran into this friend of my husband’s at Starbucks. He was with his wife and introduced himself to me. We struck up a conversation where at least 50 percent of the small talk revolved around their church, their activities at that church and their bigtime love of Jesus. It stuck with me because it really seemed like these people were very concerned that I be impressed with just how deeply they were into Jesus.
Not long after that the guy lost his job and of course asked for prayer. When I ran into him again he was again talking up Jesus big-time, as if every invocation of the word “Jesus” was an extra nickle in the Find Me A Job Vending Machine.
Well now he’s got the job. I won’t say where it is, but I will say that it is at a prominent local business. Where he has gained a reputation for being rude, cheating people out of money and giving them far less than what they’ve paid for because he assumes that they are naive and won’t know the difference.
Occasionally my husband and I run into yet another person who has been treated badly by this man and this man’s company. It happened again this evening and I said to my husband “so much for all his big God talk…”
I’m having a problem because I know we’re not supposed to judge. I know that we humans can never know what is in another person’s heart and I firmly believe that each person’s journey with God is his or her own private mystical experience never properly evaluated by outsiders. Yet I also have a problem with someone wearing Christ on his sleeve while at the same time acting in the exact opposite manner from how we Christians are taught to act. He’s besmirching the name of Jesus every time he opens the door to his company.
It’s not easy to be a Christian. We don’t belong here–the word ‘holy’ means ‘set apart’, and that’s exactly what we are. Outsiders. Every Christian feels it to a degree. That’s why so many of us would like to believe we live in a Christian nation and that if we have enough politicians and rich men on our side we won’t be so alone. That’s why so many of us crave earthly comfort and riches. And I suppose that’s why some of us figure if we act like we’ve never even heard the Gospel things will go smoothly. But I promise you it is a dangerous thing to claim Jesus while taking his name in vain. I even think there’s a commandment about that.