"What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul, towards their purification?"

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Being Snooty And Smug

I just got home from a business vacation with Cynthia. We went to a big city for a convention I had to attend. We spent a lot of time out shopping and having a good time.

It's been a while since I visited a big city. This one is one of the largest cities in the United States and we had a blast.

We saw a decent number of homeless people and, of course, I had forgotten how insensitive I was in my thinking toward the homeless. We walked past them with shopping bags and food and I ignored them. Cynthia showed empathy several times but I was just hard of heart toward them most of the time.

We kept shopping - mostly for her - and she asked, "Is there anything you want?"

I said, "I really would like a pair of nice boxers to sleep in (too much info?)"

So we set out to find some nice boxers. We looked for a while and were sent down the street to some huge multi-level men's store I'd never heard of.

We walked into the plush lobby and I should have walked out the second we walked in.

All of the sales associates were wearing suits. It looked like a grand cathedral. There were suits from wall to wall and most of them looked like they would set me back a month's salary. But, I was on vacation and trudged ahead.

The guy in the suit who met us asked what we were looking for and sent us up the elevator to the second floor. More suits there. More sales associates in suits. And when we got off the elevator, everyone stopped and stared at us.

Now, listen. We were dressed casually. I was wearing khakis and nice shoes, and an American Eagle shirt. Cynthia was wearing a nice shirt and khakis. But we weren't dressed like them.

A man stopped us and said, "Are you looking for someone?" Yeah. Not, "Can I help you?"

His question was meant to say, "You have no right to be here. You have no right to shop here. You can't afford this place so leave now."

But I'm too stupid to stop when I'm offended. I wanted to say, "Yeah, I'm looking for your sense of humor." But I didn't. I told him I was looking for boxers. He sent me toward a lady who led me over to a corner of the store.

She kept looking me up and down like I had leprosy. She wouldn't let me touch the boxers. It was like I had a disease. I was lower class to them. I just said, "You know what? Don't worry about it. I don't see anything I like."

We left. I was irritated.

I had some time to reflect on it for a while. Why was I so irritated? Because these people were middle-class, most likely, like me. And they weren't any better than me. They waited on high class people, but they got snooty because I wasn't good enough for them to wait on. It was about what "class I was in." How dare they!

Oh, snap. Wait a second, I thought.

How had I been thinking about the homeless people earlier? I had seen them as below me and had been hard-hearted in my thinking toward them because of their "class." Well, crud. I wasn't any better than the people in the men's store.

Let's go a step further.

How about my post the other day about the SBC? Some took it the wrong way, I think. I'm not blaming the SBC for my fall. My point was that the resolution they voted on will really do no good in the end. However, the people that make up the SBC and the committees are just people. And if I'm wrong, it will be because I judge the people, not the group.

How about this? What about when people walk into our churches and they look a little different? They don't act like us? They don't fit into the cliques we've formed? What would your church do if an alcoholic showed up? What would your church do if a man fresh out of prison showed up? How would you feel? (I hope you would respond positively in all those situations - and many of you would.) But unfortunately, many don't. And that's about class - that's about our snootiness and smugness.

Guess what? From members of the SBC, to those of us in church, to the people in the men's store, to the homeless, we're all human. Strip us all down to our boxers, and we're just a bunch of vulnerable people in need of God's love and mutual human understanding. But with our protective shields of piety and smugness on, we judge and look down on others. And that's not how it's intended to be. I'm guilty.

It's innate in all of us and it needs to be fought against. And I was reminded of that when I wasn't good enough to buy a pair of underwear this week.


  1. Arthur,

    I am very proud of you for writing this post. It is never easy when we are shown humility. In fact, there are many who will reject it when they are see what you were shown this week. It is never easy to accept our flaws once they are realized.

    I admire the fact that you have learned to embrace your faults, learn from them and apply them to your way of thinking. That is what God is teaching us to do through our humility.

    You are a good man. You have a good heart. It has been a blessing to watch you evolve into the man that God has created you to be.

    I love you with all I am. I am proud of you! Proud to be your wife!


  2. Arthur & Cynthia, Was curious as to how you were doing on your journey to wholeness so I checked back in on Arthurs blog and was directed to Cynthias. Spent some time there too.... I dont know that you have discovered the Person of Grace yet.... Cynthia still refers to herself as a sinner... and I can sense that shame in Arthur..... Would love to introduce Him to you. I know that you know of Him. He is probably the only thing 'certain' in your theology anymore.... The SBC will never get it right because they address all of the issues rather than the Source of all wholeness. (Like they could regulate behavior....how absurd) Jesus never spent time on the issues....watch him..... He concentrated on only Who He Was/Am and what He did.... as long as it is about rules, right or wrong, pass or fail, it will simply be another form of behavior modification which always falls short. Transformation occurs only when we understand the Finished Work of Jesus Christ. Sanctification is simply a progressive revelation of Jesus Christ. Like the fetus in a pregnant womans womb, it is a separate life but within her. It, not her, begins to grow, which changes her appearance.... it is really quit effortless to grow a fetus.... that is how Grace works.... it is not something we do... it something He does as we recognize the Life within us....

    not sure I believe you are on the 'happily ever after' part yet.....as long as you see yourself as a sinner, its impossible....

    but know that God restores.... I see no reason why you cannot be restored to a pastoral position. Either the blood is good enough or it is not.....

  3. Great post :) I sometimes wonder if we would all show up on the streets without taking shower and make up and fancy clothing, but underwear ...yes we would all be the same. Vulnerable ashamed. God is not impressed by our clothes, but by our hearts. In his eyes we are always an open book.

    What amazes me is that how far we can go to protect our "image". We have to learn to realize that God isn't interested in our image at all, he know us and still loves us. Still space to learn.

  4. You haven't write anything for a while. Are you OK? you don't have to post this comment, I'm just checking on you two. Hope everything is OK.