Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm Number One (or so I thought)

Not long ago I was driving getting ready to pull out on a very busy road. I "thought" the way was clear for me to pull out. I was wrong. I pulled right in front of a car that quickly swerved around me to avoid an accident. I gave the "I'm sorry wave and shrug" (what I always thought was the appropriate way to say "I blew, my bad, my fault.) As this guy drives by, he makes a gesture (I think you know which one). My son says, "Dad, that guys who pasted us was telling us we're number one!"

I was truly sorry and wasn't trying to be jerk or anything like that, but I realized, rudeness has become a national pastime. From in-your-face reality T.V. to road rage to obscenity-laden popular music, we have become a culture of the loud, the crude, and the rude. And while many today write off etiquette as passé, God’s definition of true love in 1 Corinthians 13 conveys the timeless nature of good manners.

Love is not rude (1 Corinthians 13:5). In other words, rudeness decaffeinates love. The word “rude” means to display an attitude that is inappropriate. The root of it suggests something that is shapeless or in a rough, rudimentary form. When we are rude, we are out of shape. And as Christians, such an attitude can disfigure ourselves, others and more importantly, the image of God. Rudeness discredits our faith in the eyes of those around us. It turns people off to Christianity, pushes them away from Christ, and gives a false impression of the character of God.

When you find yourself in a situation where someone is being rude to you, don’t return rudeness with more rudeness. (I could have told that guy he was number one back.) Instead reverse rudeness with respect.

Think about what God did for us. We’ve been rude to God by sinning. We’ve failed to comply with his rules, his order for our lives. That’s rude. It flies in the face of God’s love. But does God return rude for rude? No. God returns rudeness with respect, a respect that flows from his great love for us--a love that commissioned his only Son to die in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

So, the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, is late for an appointment, or talks on a cell phone in a movie theater, respond in the same way God does to our rudeness: with love and respect. Because when you know God’s love and humble yourself before him, that leads to respect. And respect reverses rudeness.

I look forward to being with you and sharing with you all this Sunday. God has really been impressing this lesson on me this week. It's not always fun to have something "impressed" upon you, but through it we grow, right? Don't come alone. Bring someone. We have a great church, with good music and great people. Most people are just an invitation away from coming to church. All we have to do is ask.

See you Sunday,


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