Last week Lauri and I spent an evening returning Christmas gifts that we had received. It wasn’t because we didn’t like what we had been given, quite the contrary, to be sure. There were slippers that didn’t fit, a shirt that was the wrong size, shoes that were too small, a game that we already had… you know, honest gift-giving mistakes that needed to be corrected.
Mine was the shirt. I just needed a better fit. So, we went to the appropriate store (I’ll leave it unnamed) to make the switch. Unfortunately, the right size in same shirt wasn’t an option, so I had to do one of my least favorite things… shop for myself. Can I just be honest with you here…. I hate it when people try to sell me something. If I want to buy something, then I will buy it — but don’t try to sell me something… especially something that I don’t even want. I am a pretty stubborn guy and I will not budge. I will channel my best Gandalf in those situations, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
The store clerk was just doing his job, I get it, but he was REALLY trying to sell me… something… anything… whatever would keep me from just making an exchange. How about a more expensive shirt? How about getting a deal when I buy THREE shirts… it was only going to be an additional $66, after all. I could even exchange the shirt he said for a pair of pants for only an additional $99… dude… I just want a shirt — don’t make me whip out my Gandalf staff.
I got out of that store with just an exchanged shirt (and I’m actually wearing it as you read this), but the emotional strain of not lashing out and acting in a very un-Jesus-like fashion caused me to illicit a prolonged sigh of frustration when I was finally back in my truck. It was just all so stressful!
I love how Eugene Peterson translates Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5. Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Matthew 5:13-16 The Message
It’s not always easy to act in a Jesus-like fashion — and I fail at this from time to time — but it is one of the callings that Jesus has placed upon us. To treat others the way that He treated people… even those who treated Him poorly. We are here to be the God-Flavors and God-Colors in the world. May the Holy Spirit guide us and empower us to do it — even when we are dealing with a pushy salesman.