Looking Foolish

I am a Christian. I am a pastor. I have often experienced the awkward moment in the conversation after someone I have just met asks me what I do for a living... and I answer. Most of the time this is followed by a long pause while the other person visibly tries to sort out what to say next. Have they cursed in our exchange so far? Should this bother them? Do you have a bone to pick with religion, faith, or Christianity? Should they pick it with me? Am I judging them? Should they adjust their behavior accordingly? And on and on. 

There are many objections to Christianity and to faith. Once and a while they come out. More often than not the awkward pause is followed by an embarrassing fizzle as the conversation grinds to a halt. 

I am keenly aware of the point Francis Spufford makes, that the most painful message about Christianity our society gives us that we are embarrassing. This makes sense. I am caught in the embarrassing predicament described well by Simon Tugwell:

"...anyone who, like me, finds himself unaccountably thrown in the deep end, splashing and struggling and hoping that it will turn out to be 'swim' rather than 'sing,' though sometimes rather suspecting that it is going to be 'sink.' Should he find the time to stop and think about it, he will be embarrassingly aware that to a spectator safe on dry ground, his antics will look utterly clownish and unintelligible, but there is nothing that can be done about that. We can only hope that our very foolishness and helplessness draw the God of mercy to our assistance."

Nothing can be done I suppose. But those of you watching from dry ground should know that my own struggle to stay afloat doesn't mean I'm trying to pull you down, with judgement or argument. And I'm sorry if I sometimes try to help in ways you believe are unnecessary. It's just that my position you look like your sinking too. 

No comments: