“Love one another as I have loved you” (St. John 13:34); all these are my brothers (from St. Mark 3:35); do unto others as you would have them do unto you (St. Luke 6:31); seventy times seven (St. Matthew 18:22); turn the other cheek (St. Matthew 5:39).
What could be simpler? This is the Christian, loving, acceptable way to live and we who are Christian are all called to live in this manner. Jesus modelled it for us and we are to follow His lead. He wasn’t laughing when He said these things and He didn’t have his fingers crossed behind His back. These are some of the things we’re to do to be good followers.
And then we wake up, get the family ready for the day, drive the interstate to work, and start our day at our workplace. All that charming Jesus stuff gets shoved right out the door. But it’s not supposed to be. We’re to carry it in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts. Our day is where His teaching meets the road. It seems there’s an hourly challenge to these precepts and all we can hope to do is get a least one right.
I worked in the debt collection department of a major retailer. It had the most adverse effect on me. I mean I was deeply scarred by what I heard people say every day. I had no idea what people are really like. It completely obliterated for me that cozy little idea that people are basically good. Ahem – I beg to differ. We had two weeks training and then went ‘live’ on the phones in the training room. My very first call was to an 83 year old woman in Chicago who proceeded to call me everything but a child of God. She said words I didn’t know 83 year old women knew! After awhile, you can tell when someone is lying – I’m sorry, you just can. Tons of calls listening to some of the most outrageous stories you ever heard. ‘Tall tales’ didn’t die with Mark Twain. Americans are good at it.
But sometimes, in the lies and abuse and insults, the Holy Spirit happened. A woman was late on her bill; she had just been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. She had spent the last two months going to doctors and hospitals and got behind on all her bills. She was alone in the world – no family. She started to cry and I fought back my own tears the best I could. I said to her, at the close of the call, “If you won’t be offended, I’ll remember you in my prayers.” Oh, my word – it was almost as if Jesus had healed her that moment. She was crying again but with a difference. Someone was going to pray for her. It mattered to her.
The police officer whose mother had just been diagnosed with dementia and had to move in with the officer, who was single and at wits end; didn’t know how he could afford all the doctoring and time off from work. Because my dad was a police officer, I suggested contacting his Police Benevolent Association. My dad’s been gone since 1999, and was retired long before then. How in the world did I remember the PBA? Holy Spirit moment.
As you might expect, Saturday mornings were bad; really bad. But one call set me back on my heels. The gentleman on the other end of the line was really chipper and perky and gosh, he meant to pay the bill so here, take the card information, etc. At one point, I was chuckling and asked him if he was always that cheery on a Saturday morning and he said, “Yes, ma’am; I am. I know Who I belong to.” Holy Spirit moment.
Being a Christian is the easiest thing in the world – even when it isn’t.