So, I was at the office (Starbucks on Willow and Long Beach Blvd.) yesterday.
Next to me was George. He was having trouble with his computer. I’m no computer expert, but maybe I give the vibe I am. Sidebar: To all my friends, if I have given any of you the sense at any point – perhaps by my dress or behavior – that I actually am a computer expert, please, PLEASE let me know so I can have more honest conversations with my therapist.
Anyway, George asked if I could help get all the “cookies” off his computer. If you don’t know what “cookies” are, well, I’m not the guy to tell you, but I know it has something to do with visiting websites and accumulating residue on your computer as a result. So, I was spending time doing the little I knew in order to help George. I asked him where he was from and what he was up to. He returned the favor, “So, what do you do?” I answered, “I’m a pastor.”
This caught the attention of the couple on the other side of George. I glanced over and saw a Bible open on their table. Sadly, I wasn’t sure if this was a good or bad thing. I wish I could say I was immediately encouraged, but the truth is that my first thought was, “Uh oh.”
The man at the table, Frank, asked suspiciously, “What do you think it means to be a Christian?” Here we go . . .
“Well, right now, I think part of it has to do with me helping George with his computer.”
Frank pounced, “That’s what anyone would say. They could be a Muslim or a Buddhist and they’d say that. Helping George with his computer is just about being a good neighbor. That’s not what it means to be a Christian.”
I timidly offered, “Didn’t Jesus talk about loving your neighbors?” Frank lectured me for the next five minutes, pausing twice to ask questions I answered incorrectly. Just then, I wanted to do some un-pastorly things.
For all I know, Frank could be a decent human being, but that experience was terrible. So, why am I blogging about it?
Part of it is to process my anger at the fact that Frank is my brother in Christ. I want to distance myself from him – write him off – but somehow we’re on the same team. This is just confusing to me. I also know that I need as much mercy and grace as Frank does.
I suppose the other thing is that I want to say, “I’m sorry,” to anyone who has felt what I felt yesterday. I’m sorry that we Christians have done stuff like this to you. I’m sorry we haven’t bothered to get to know you, we’ve utterly failed at loving you and we’ve told you how wrong you are. I’m so sorry.