Monday, March 22, 2010

Evolution of Thinking

"My paying job" comes with all kinds of characters -- something for which I should be thankful.  When I finally decide that I no longer have a reckless need for things like food and electricity, I will quit my paying job and write full-time.  Then, I will draw from these characters to write the world's greatest novel ever.  OK.  Maybe not.  But in the meantime, I will tolerate them and they will tolerate me.

There is one individual we all seem to tolerate more than others -- others we actually like.  This individual is probably not more opinionated than the rest of us, she just likes to share her opinions, constantly, tenaciously, and with little regard for the fact there is a phone pressed to my ear and my back is turned.  She is well educated and well read, and she feels a pressing need to save us all from certain ignorance.  Recently she came to me -- I seem to be in her Top Five for compliant pupils -- or maybe, in her mind, I am just so hopelessly misguided she feels compelled to emend my erroneous thinking.  Anyway, she came to me with an article from a newspaper I would not see fit to use for lining bird cages.  The article was an Op-Ed piece on the wisdom of teaching Creation or Intelligent Design side-by-side with Evolution.  The author thought the idea to be preposterous, likening it to teaching astrology or the possibility of alien abduction.  My co-worker concurred, and scoffed at those who would deny the validity of Carbon-14 dating or fossilized "evidence" that we all descended from primates and once threw our own pooh.

Over the years I have come to realize the bulk of intolerance comes not from those who are "conservative" or "fundamental" or even "Christian" in their beliefs (all favorite generalizations of those who are not) but from those who think they are so much more rational or intellectual.  I was annoyed and offended by her arrogant dismissal of my beliefs; while it's true she did this without ever having inquired of my views, and without I believe, intention to deliver insult, I was immediately wounded.  If I hadn't been standing there with coat on and keys in hand, ready to leave, if I hadn't learned that engaging her means possibly foregoing thirty or more irretrievable minutes of my life, I would have addressed the issue; instead I said, "Yeah, OK," and bolted for the door.  On the walk out, I ranted to a fellow co-worker and Christian, "She is the one we all consider to be 'touched,' and yet, here she is mocking us -- the 'normal folks?'  No one will give her the time of day!  I stick up for her, defend unusual behavior, and she ridicules me?"  By the time my diatribe had ceased to be little more than grumbling and unfinished thoughts, my co-worker calmly said, "There is one thing that is certain."  Although I knew his thought, I asked anyway; it was the words God wanted me to hear -- "Every knee shall bow."  My heart was flooded with compassion for this woman and guilt over my anger.  Isn't it thoughtlessness and arrogance that even now keep me from a perfect relationship with my Savior?  How can I be so disgusted by her sin when I am not only guilty of my own, but am made aware of it by the Scriptures that I claim to regard as my life's resource?  I sat in my truck and prayed not only for forgiveness but the opportunity to share with her my beliefs. 

I realize she may consider it the ultimate folly; I am prepared for her own righteousness, but I can no longer ignore that the Holy Spirit opened a door for me that day, and in my haste and selfishness I slammed it shut.  I cannot deny the compassion I have been shown or the Holy Spirit pressed on my heart; in simple terms, I am obligated to "pay it forward," not in tolerance but in LOVE.  
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