20
Sep
16

“Easier Said Than Done”

broken-down-car-620x480

Try as I might, I have to confess that there are several categories of people I really have a hard time extending Christ’s love toward.

Some of those categories include: people who are deliberately mean… people who see only the negative side of every situation… people whose worlds revolve exclusively around them and their needs, and fans of Mixed Martial Arts, to name just a few. (Just kidding there on that last one. Sort of…)

But the person I find the most difficult to love, without a doubt, is the HYPOCRITE. You know the hypocrite… the person who says one thing and does exactly the opposite.

I have an especially hard time loving the hypocrite when I see him staring back at me from the bathroom mirror.

It’s like this: a few weeks ago I preached a sermon that centered on the parable of the Good Samaritan. By way of a quick recap, this is the Bible story about the man who was beaten and robbed and left for dead on the road that runs between Jerusalem and Jericho. As Jesus tells the story, good, God-fearing, church-going people – including a priest – passed by on the other side of the road, ignoring the battered man. But then another man stopped and helped him. The twist of the story is that it was a man who belonged to a group who were sworn enemies of the injured man… the Samaritans. The Samaritan stopped, bandaged the man’s wounds, carried him to a nearby inn, and paid for his care.

He sacrificed on behalf of a total stranger.

In the course of delivering this sermon I took a few swipes at the sanctimonious religious people who were more concerned with their ceremonial life than with ministering to the needs of their neighbor. Bam! Slam! Take that, you sanctimonious religious people who don’t practice the faith you preach! You blankety-blank HYPOCRITES!

And then – faster than you can say “hypocrite” – I became one of them

I came home from work a few days after preaching that sermon and found a strange white car parked on the curb right across from my driveway. It was parked in an odd place… fairly inconveniently placed, but I didn’t think much about it.

I didn’t see anyone with the car immediately, but then when I looked closer I saw a young African-American man sitting on a bench in my neighbor’s back yard. We have a small, close-knit neighborhood and so I immediately recognized him as someone I didn’t recognize.

At this point, the Samaritan in Jesus’ story would have identified the stranger on the bench as a person in trouble… a person with a problem that he himself was not able to solve.

The Samaritan would then have abandoned all concerns except the concern for figuring out the exact nature of the young man’s problem and what he could do to help solve it.

And what was I doing? I was peering out my front door periodically to see if the car had been moved yet, wondering if someone was on the way to pick up the young man, speculating on how the white car got there in the first place, and hoping to heck it would be gone by the time I had to leave for work the next day. That is… my important ceremonial religious work.

In terms of my actions, I was huddling safely in my home doing NOTHING. In baseball parlance, I had come up to the plate and utterly whiffed.

I’ve noticed that sometimes in life when I whiff, I pull out the phrase “easier said than done” to excuse my whiffing. It is a verbal device I use to excuse myself from engaging in risky or complex ethical action.

Do you ever do this?

It is a way of granting myself a kind of cheap grace. The use of the “easier said than done” phrase suggests that KNOWING the right thing is very nearly as good as actually DOING it. It conveniently ignores the truth posited by the writer of the book of James when he said, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:17, NRSV)

Who knows what the situation was with the young man and the white car? Who knows what I could have done to help? Who knows what the outcome might have been had I walked over and tried to help?

Who knows indeed? But what I do know is this: I could have done something and I chose not to.

Today I am praying for forgiveness. I am praying for courage to match my convictions. I am praying that I will be granted the chance to come to the plate again soon and not whiff.

And I am praying that the young man in the white car is OK. But I know that if he is, it is no thanks to me.

Abundant blessings to you!


0 Responses to ““Easier Said Than Done””



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: