Saturday, December 17, 2005

More on Adam -- and other people who radiate Gamma Ray stuff

St. Casserole asked, "Why does Adam stay?" (see yesterday's post)

Good question.

I have known three people who got under my skin the way Adam does -- although Adam is by far the one who gets to me the most.

Burt was Clerk of Session in my first church. He suddenly turned on me and began making my life misserable. One of the other elders pulled me aside and told me that Burt was a cumpulsive gambler. Whenever he was losing he would attack the minister -- whoever that might be at any time. He'd been doing this for years.

Charlie was my Presbytery Executive. He attacked me and everyone else in the presbytery. He actually accused me of falsifying the annual report we have to turn into the Presbytery office, claiming, "no church could grow that fast." My whole session met with him and we documented every single new member for that year. Looking back, I regard that accusation as a complement.

But he made my life miserable, and he tortured other ministers as well.

Charlie died a few years ago. He'd had a rare brain disorder that effected his conduct. Eventually he lost his memory and the ability to take care of his most basic needs. I look back on the years before his illness and give thanks for all in him that was good and kind and faithful.

Diane and her family became very antagonistic. I'd invited an African American family to the church. It's one of the reasons I served only two years in Alabama.

So what is Adam's story?

Why does he stay in this church?

First, because he has no where else to go. It is the only place in his life where people are civil to him.

Second, he is powerless in his life. He has suffered unemployment frequently. His job is always on the line. His children rebel against him and his wife. The powerless often find the church to be a place where they can grasp power. Sadly, they miss the whole point of authority in the church as being a role of servanthood.

Third, I have learned that he fears change. It is not just that he doesn't like change. He is terrified of it. Many people may use the old expression, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Adam would say, "If it's broke, don't go messing with it because it might get worse."

One thing I am sure of -- when Christ returns to earth and sets up His kingdom, and we celebrate the Feast of the Lamb -- I will be there. I will sit there and savor the moment my savior allowed me to sit in His presence.

I will turn to one side and see Adam.

And on the other side there will be Burt, and across from me will be Charlie, and next to him will be Diane.

We will take the bread and eat it together.

We will take the cup and drink the wine together.

We will know that each of us is made in the image of God, and each of us are loved by God, and each of us will be at that table because the Lamb gave his life for each of us.

If God loves us so much, Adam and I really ought to get along together.

When I found out Burt was a gambler and had lost his home, I could love him because I understood something of his pain.

When I found out Charlie was close to death and why, I could love him becuase I understood why he had acted the way he had.

When I reflect on Diane, I know that racism is a terrible sin. I don't share that type of sin with her, but I have other sins I struggle with, and knowing that I am a sinner of a different sort helps me love a fellow sinner.

Someday I will understand Adam a bit better. Perhaps love will come more easily at that time. But for now I have to watch out for those Gamma Rays.


Anonymous Lorna said...

Thank you for this.

It helped me to see others in my life through Jesus' eyes this morning. Be blessed

3:18 AM  
Blogger yuene said...

This is a great entry, just completely reminded me to think of the context of people's actions before coming to conclusions about them. Although it certainly doesn't excuse their behaviour, it is also precisely because of this that my behaviour toward people who annoy me cannot be excused too. Thanks for sharing!

9:26 AM  
Blogger St. Casserole said...

I don't cry much reading other people's blogs but this post gets to me.
Looking forward to when we sit together at the Great Feast,

St. Casserole

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pastor this one was an eye-opener. To even begin to think this way about someone as harsh as Adam would be a real uphill task for me. I do hope I get there one day though.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Angelique said...

I feel sorry for Adam but he can be an ass on his own time. Church is a family and even though family argues it always loves each other and Adam doesn't seem like the loving type. Maybe you should tell him that you get further in life with a little sugar than with vinegar.

1:54 AM  

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