A few days ago, I got in my car and drove to the local Discount Tire store in Benton Harbor. I had been putting off the inevitable for quite a while. The car I bought last summer had some worn-out tires on it. After slipping and sliding round during the first two snowfalls of the season, I decided I needed to buy all-season tires. So off I went with my laptop in tow. I knew I’d have a long wait, because there are always plenty of poor suckers like me who don’t think ahead of time and clog up such places of business at the last minute. So I decided I’d work on a writing project while I waited.
I got in line, waited a while, talked to the nice man at the desk, and sat down to wait for my car’s turn for service. It was a very long wait. About two hours, in fact. The guys in the garage were doing the best they could, but they had too much business to keep ahead of. I was far from bored. I had my work to do and sailed along just fine until…Mrs. Crabby-Pants walked in. I shall call her MCP for short. MCP had been in earlier, dropped her car off, and gone away to do some errands. She was scandalized that her car had not been attended to yet. She regaled all of us in the sitting area by raining caustic comments at the poor service man at the front desk, which he handled very well.
MCP: Where’s my car in the line up now?
Guy at the desk: You have four cars ahead of you.
Guy at the desk: Well, I did say you’d have quite a wait when you came in this morning.
MCP: That was an hour and a half ago. You said it would be an hour and a half.
Guy at the desk: Actually, I estimated two hours.
MCP (huffing): Well…
Guy at the desk: It shouldn’t be too much longer now.
MCP: You should have more people working in the bay.
Guy at the desk: We’re kind of at capacity.
MCP: I only saw four guys out there.
Guy at the desk: There are more than that, but they do a lot of running back and forth to grab parts. That’s probably why you aren’t seeing more all at once.
At a loss as to how to proceed after all her favorite objections had been thoroughly answered, she turned to the guy sitting next to me and tried to engage him in a friendly conversation. He complied, and we had a few moments of peace. I returned to my writing and nearly tuned out of the conversation going on to my left until a few words sparked my attention.
MCP: I kept hearing this voice telling me to turn around.
MCP: Yes, and I wouldn’t do it because it felt so silly.
Dude: Then what happened?
MCP: I finally turned around and felt something whizz by me.
She finished her story by saying that the voice commanding her to turn around had saved her from certain injury or death by a flying, blunt, metal object of some sort. She began to nod her head sagely, while the dude expressed proper amazement.
MCP: God is good.
MCP: God is good ALL the time.
Over in my seat, I had to choke down an overwhelming urge to laugh. I wondered if the notion that God was good all of the time had suddenly occurred to her while she was inconvenienced at the tire shop, or if He was only good all of the time when He kept her from injury. I had my answer a few minutes later when she approached the desk and made her complaints known all over again.
The wheels began turning as I contemplated what had just taken place. I had heard a self-professed Christian first make life miserable for about twenty minutes, then I heard her give praise to God, and then, not ten minutes later, begin complaining all over again. If the irony of the situation made me, a Christian, laugh and shake my head, what was it going to do for the professed atheist, the skeptic, or your average I-don’t-know-what-I-believe-just-pass-the-beer Joe on the street? If I were one of these, I wouldn’t be able to take her seriously or listen without a smirk when she told me I needed to repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. I’d probably say something about cognitive dissonance if I were some kind of intellectual. If I weren’t intellectual, I’d just tell her she was a big, loud-mouthed hypocrite.
And then, I began to think about my own cognitive dissonances–the many ways that I profess one thing and live another. As a matter of fact, as soon as I got back home, my brother and I got into a heated “discussion” concerning our differences (we’re pretty much polar opposites) and had to apologize to one another afterwards. Sigh.
I guess the point of all this is that when we use Christ’s name in connection to ourselves, we become His ambassadors whether we like it or not. Because of that, people get a very distinct impression about who He is by the way we behave. That’s a frightening and sobering thought. Mrs. Crabby-Pants at the tire shop painted a very poor picture of Christ’s beautiful character, and frankly, the picture I painted when I went home was pretty ugly too. My behavior either exalts or lowers God in the eyes of everyone around me. Thankfully, He can still glorify Himself when I fail and even through my failures, but I should always aim as high as I can for Him.