Today’s riddle: When can you see if a person is a real Christian or not?
My answer to my own, pretty lame riddle is this: When they are waiting in line to get food.
And why do I think so?
It’s because I have seen it with my own eyes.
Last week Partners was honored to get to serve two meals a day to the participants at a large Christian festival in the south of Norway. To the festival came well-known Christian leaders and preachers. Many of them carried labels stating their importance on their shirts. Many came to the festival to minister as either intercessors or as counselors. This I also noticed on their badges. Then there were the normal Christians who were there just to get some good spiritual fellowship and teaching. Not to mention worship and prayer. All of this is well. In the sanctuaries where the meetings were held people lifted their hands in worship. Words of the Lord were shared. Insightful teachings were delivered. Prayers were prayed.
But then there was time to get in the food line. The line was long, and the amount of food per person was calculated with pretty good accuracy. It was going to be enough for everyone if everyone ate just their share.
Something happens to Christians when they are hungry, and, even worse, when they think there may not be enough food for them. It appears all their Christian virtues were left in the sanctuary. Because while waiting in line, I saw more people pushing, cutting in line, taking more food for themselves than they were allowed, and using bad language to the servers if they didn’t get what they thought they were entitled to. They refused to move if they didn’t get more than we had given them. They rarely said thank you.
You know the worst offenders? The big-shots. The ones who believed they had “the anointing.” The ones believing about themselves that since they were so spiritual, they deserved to cut ahead of others in line, and get seconds before the rest got firsts. I had a few intercessors forget about their calling too, and there were counselors in the lines that I would not recommend you get counseling from. If you know what I mean.
Then there were the ones who waited until everybody had eaten. By then, the best stuff was often gone. Left was pasta without sauce, or hamburgers with no hamburgers, just the buns and tomatoes. Some of them made loud complaints. Understandably. But there were also the precious few who smiled and thanked us for the dry pasta and said that this was all they needed.
I thought a lot about this during the week. The people waiting in the lines every day were mostly well-fed. Many of them too well-fed, I would have to say. I doubt that a single one of them had ever not had enough food to eat. None of them had ever really starved. So why were they so stressed, so selfish, so inconsiderate, and so greedy?
It dawned on me that what I saw in the food lines at the conference was a microcosm of our world. And now I talk about the Christian world. (I could talk about the world as a whole too, but this time I want to point fingers at Christians.)
How can we, in all sincerity, worship God and quote His word, and be all good Christians when in church, when among our own peers, when in places where it is easy to fake it, but then forget all about the teachings of Jesus when we are hungry? Why do we forget about what Jesus said about the first being the last (or was in vice versa?)
You know where I am going, don’t you? The thing about that there was enough food for everybody, if everybody just took their share. That is true. The problem is that you, I and millions of us, who call ourselves followers of Jesus even, don’t just take seconds before all have gotten to eat. We take thirds, fourths, fifths and sixth…we take a hundred portions before we allow somebody else to get a few dried macaronis.
I am trying to lose weight, for heaven’s sake! Today I ate too much—again. Portions too big, and too many. I am saying to my family that we have got to get rid of some of all the clutter. We have stuff falling out the windows. Before the world’s starving children get to eat until they are full every day, I want a chance to have a raw food, low carb, high protein, gluten free, grain free, Paleo, lactose free, vegan, vegetarian diet, with super foods such as quinoa, chia, goji, hemp, wheat grass, coconut oil and wild salmon. These are foods and diets that will make me stronger, prettier, live longer, have less wrinkles, run faster, do more push-ups and make my hair shiny. These are all such good things for me that I can’t afford not getting it, and, sorry to all the ones further back in the line. I hope there will be some Wonder bread and grape jelly left for you when it is your turn. I am sorry that you happened to be be born in the part of the world where you were born, and with the parents that you got, and the climate and the government you were given. I am really sorry, but not so sorry that I am willing to trade places with you. I need my green tea.
I was so angry with some of the people in the food line that I at times just threw the food on their plate as a way to show my disgust with their selfishness. But when I got back in the evening, I was met with something scary: My own reflection in the mirror, and a message that I believe was from God himself: Dont judge others unless you want to be judged yourself.