She’s A Sex Offender

I was lured by an article claiming that all liars have one thing in common. When I clicked on it, what I found was an article that redirected me to a website that basically allows you to do a background check on yourself. In the reviews, one guy exclaimed, “Thanks for your amazing website. I just discovered that my girlfriend is a registered sex offender!” Imagine that.

I suppose it’s helpful to know what’s out there in the public domain—particularly if it’s about you. It doesn’t hurt to know the truth—or does it? There’s an old saying that goes, “The truth hurts.” Yeah… I can attest to that. I suppose we all can.

The Inevitable Happened

I went to the site, put in my name, and waited to see what bad things can been gleaned about me in cyberspace. I wasn’t too worried about my girlfriend (since I don’t have one—unless you count my lovely Bride). The inevitable happened, of course. I got all the way to the end only to discover that I needed to pay $27.78 to find out what the report had to say. I was a tad disappointed, but there’s another old saw that says, “Ignorance is bliss.” I guess I’ll opt for that one. Even if I pay the money, nothing’s going to change.

Living in ignorance is probably not the best way to travel through life. I remember a guy who showed up at a worship service I was conducting. He had never attended worship prior to that day. When he told me the reason he stopped in, I was a bit amazed.

He said that he was at his job, down in a pit, repairing a machine. He was, in essence, trapped. By that, he meant he couldn’t get away from his work partner who proceeded to share the Gospel with him.

He Never Wanted to Know

Up to that point in life, he never wanted to know. He felt that, if he didn’t hear about God, he couldn’t be held responsible. Once he had heard the truth, he knew it was time to get with the program. For him, ignorance was bliss. Fortunately, the truth set him free.

I suppose a lot of us want to live in the bliss of ignorance. Common sense tells us that it’s a bit dangerous to do so, but many of us still slog along with that attitude. In some ways, it’s just easier. Why go through the process of truth discovery when you can sail along without it? Why indeed.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy to remind him about his own former ignorance. He indicated that he was shown mercy despite his ignorance so he might be able to share the Gospel with others that they might be able to overcome their ignorance as well. He makes it sound like we’re not supposed to live in the darkness. The Gospel of John does say that Jesus is the Light that shines in our darkness. I guess he was right.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

Terminally Nice

I recently ran across the phrase, “terminally nice.” The coiner of the phrase was making the point that we are not commanded to be nice to a fault. Unfortunately, because we are called to be loving, nice is the idea we often settle upon. Christians are supposed to be nice people—period.

Just to be sure, I looked up the definition of nice. The dictionary listed such synonyms as pleasant, agreeable, and delightful. You know…nice… We all like nice. We like people who are agreeable. Most of us, I’m sure, would like to be known as nice individuals. Christians, in general, are wildly guilty of that. I say, guilty because nice is not the goal. Yet, many of us have made it the objective of our existence.

Mr. Nice Guy

I am certainly no whopping exception to this.  I want to be known as Mr. Nice Guy as much as the next person. There is, however, a line that we cross along the way. That line is the demarcation between nice and terminally nice. There’s a point at which we become a little too agreeable or a tad too delicate in our dealings with those around us. When we cross that line, we’ve become terminally nice.

Please allow me to stop here to remind us of something. Jesus wasn’t always nice. In fact, there were distinct moments and events during which Jesus was anything but nice. You may recall many of his dealings with the Pharisees ended in name-calling. My mother always taught me that wasn’t very nice and should be avoided at all costs.

So, if Jesus is our greatest example, how is it that he could stoop to such demeaning behavior? Why would he take the chance of hurting someone else’s feelings or bruising their egos? Why would he go so far as to mess up someone else’s property (John 2:15)? What kind of Savior is that?

Tough Love

The short answer is he is the kind of Savior whose ultimate end wasn’t simply to be nice. I’m sure you’ve heard of tough love. Jesus was the master of tough love. If we can go by what he preached, he loved (and continues to love) everyone. And yet, he doesn’t continue to be nice ad nauseam. There’s a limit to nice. Nice ends when it clashes with the truth.

If there’s anything we Christians place a higher claim upon than nice, it’s truth. One of our basic tenets is found in the claim stated by none other than Jesus himself. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). You may notice it doesn’t contain the phrase, “and the nicest guy on the planet.” If we are bearers of the truth, sharing that truth is the ultimate goal. If we can be nice along the way, that’s great—even preferable.

It would behoove us to pass along the truth of Christ without wrecking someone’s life. But if we have to upend a few tables in the process, so be it.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]