I was having one of those mornings. You know, the kind where from the time your feet hit the floor the tempo is set to rush; the kind where the first sip of coffee doesn’t happen until you’re in the car. In rush hour traffic. To my surprise I made it on time to the dentist’s office. Relieved, I took my seat in the waiting room and enjoyed the luxury of being the only one there.
The quiet was fleeting, though. Within a few minutes a clearly frustrated lady yanked the door open. She stepped in, glanced at her watch and then grumbled, “Traffic, ah, JESUS CHRIST!” I looked at her, stunned, insulted and feeling slightly provoked. Truly, I can’t think of anything I hate to hear as much as I hate hearing Jesus’ name used as profanity. It hurts my ears. It hurts my heart. It hurts my spirit.
Hearing that first thing in the morning was such an immediate shock to my system that it took a minute to gather my thoughts. My anger dissipated almost instantly, and as I watched her meticulously sign in I felt a surge of compassion. My heart ached for her as I considered the power of the name she used so flippantly. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know what. So I did what I always do when I don’t know what to say — I prayed.
Not in the Job Description
As I prayed, the Lord reminded me of something: Jesus doesn’t need a defense attorney. His name will be glorified and honored. Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess He is Lord. The grand story already has a beginning, middle and end.
You see, sometimes we can be tempted to pull a Peter. (See John 18:10 where Peter, so zealous to defend Jesus, takes a swing at a soldier with his sword and cuts off the guy’s ear!) If we aren’t careful, it’s possible in our zeal and readiness to defend Jesus that we are simply obnoxious. Or worse, a hindrance to the Gospel. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our desire to be right that we forget what our true purpose is.
We can be tempted to argue the issues instead of loving the people. We can be tempted to stand for what’s right, but in the wrong manner, so that the world never sees the foundation on which we stand: love. I’m not saying we, as Christians, should ever abandon our convictions, but that we love people before we correct them.
It’s All About Love
After filling out the sheet, she walked across the room, flung her purse on the seat next to her, sat down with an exaggerated sigh and looked up at me. Our eyes connected briefly, I smiled and hesitantly asked, “How was your morning?”
That was it; the invitation to converse was accepted, and we discussed our morning, traffic, cavity-prone teeth, Disney movies and the weather. I didn’t win her to Jesus. I didn’t correct the other profanities that came out of her mouth during our discourse. I simply loved her. I treated her as the valued woman she is: wonderfully made, passionately loved, and equally desired in the kingdom of Heaven.
It’s simple: Jesus never asked us to be His defense attorneys. Rather, He called us to be His witnesses. As we witness the power of His love, the joy of His presence, and the fulfillment of fellowship, we will overflow with the most necessary tool to win others to Christ — love.
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35).