I had an interesting experience at the dollar store yesterday. My sister and I were scouring the shelves to fill our shoeboxes for the Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child. As we were checking out with a substantial number of items the clerk was inquisitive, and when I told her what we were doing she thanked us profusely. As she noted our good sized expenditure, I responded with a statistic I had just heard that if Christianity were a country, it would be the fourteenth largest economic entity in the world. I commented that Christians were also very generous in their help of the hurting and the needy. The clerk looked around covertly and said that she couldn’t say that word in the store – Christian. As one who asserts that the word “Christian” has become a political association more than a connection with being a disciple of Christ, it was interesting to me that someone would be loathe to use it in public conversation. She said she couldn’t use it in the store because she was an employee. I am not sure what that word conveyed to make it off limits, but I was glad that she saw two “Christians” desiring to help those in need. Interestingly, we ran into two other women who were on the same mission as we were that day, filling their carts with gifts for kids who they will never meet. It felt like we got something right this time! That clerk will probably be more likely to associate the word “Christian” with people who want to love others rather than a right wing political hate group. It was a conspiratorial moment, and she was on our side! Love is our weapon of choice.
It reminded me of my reading of 1 Thessalonians this morning – Paul commending the converts there for their love in the very midst of persecution. He says “God has already taught you how to love outside yourselves. And it’s evident that you learned that lesson well by the way you love all these people of Macedonia.” They were severely tormented, belittled at the very least for their doctrine, but their love and honorable lives won the respect of their neighbors. May we live with the same passion! “They tell us how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to await His Son from heaven (by living well ordered honest loving lives – my words) whom he raised from the dead – Jesus who rescues us form the wrath to come.” 1Th1:9-10