Blessed With the Best?
I once ran into a guy I hadn't seen in a while, a pastor of a prison outreach in the community where I lived at the time. He is a man that I didn't know very well, but we'd met on a couple occasions and we had once shared an evening meal together at his home. I greeted him with the usual, "How are you?" and his answer took me aback a little and started me thinking. Without skipping a beat, he said, "I'm blessed with the best 'cuz I'm not like the rest!"
The thing that shocked me was how cliché and impersonal his response was. I thought to myself that if an unbeliever had asked him the same question and received the same response, he would probably have thought the guy was Looney Tunes. And frankly, as he continued to talk, I had a few doubts myself. He went on, almost without taking a breath, to tell me all about the church they had planted in the prison and how many people were coming, and all the things that he had been doing to glorify God with his life. His monologue was liberally sprinkled with, "Hallelujah," "Bless the Lord," "I give God all the glory," and other such "spiritual" phrases, but nothing he said was really what I wanted to know.
I wanted to know about him. About his family, his wife, his health, his needs, his battles, what the Lord was revealing to him about the Kingdom - heart stuff. I was genuinely wanting to know "How are you?" Instead, the response I got was little more than religious sounding gobbledygook and, capable as I am to decipher the Christian jargon he used, I was still not able to leave with any idea about his personal life. And I'm sure he didn't get any sense of mine - he never once asked about it.
Instead, I came away with a deep sense of sadness. Sad that we feel like we have to put on a phony spirituality to impress the people around us. Sad that we can't find it in ourselves to simply be real and open. Sad that we have become so caught up in our busy-ness that we don't have time for one another. Sad that we are so devoid of the love that Jesus said would mark us as His disciples (John 13:35). No wonder Jesus wept over the city (Luke 19:41).
I hope my pastor friend was right on every count. For his sake, and the sake of his family and household, I hope he is "blessed with the best". I also hope that he is "not like the rest", i.e. that the rest of us will be a little more real and caring with the people that we encounter on a daily basis.