A long time ago I was attending a conference at someplace or another, as I am sometimes wont to do. I possess one of the world’s smallest bladders. That means that seldom does an hour transpire without me having to avail myself of the “facilities.” In large public meetings I usually sit in an end seat toward the back of the auditorium to facilitate a discrete retreat should the speaker speak beyond my ability to sit without fidgeting.

So it was at this conference held at a large church someplace or another that I made my exit from the auditorium an hour into a long presentation to go in search of a restroom. The lobby seemed a logical place to start, but to no avail. From the lobby I proceeded first one way and then another down labyrinthine hallways. I found administrative offices, storerooms, and the food pantry, but no restroom.

Finally as I hurried, now in a bit of a panic, down yet another hallway, I surmised that I must be headed toward the Sunday School wing for the walls of the corridor where hung with posters in a style designed to appeal to children. In each one an assortment of children (“black and yellow, red and white,” as I recall) were clustered at the feet of Jesus. At least I think it was supposed to be Jesus even though he was fair-skinned with light brown almost sandy-colored hair and blue eyes. Each poster bore a caption. Jesus says, “Honor your Mommy and Daddy.” Jesus says, “Love your neighbor.” Jesus says, “Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.” But then came, Jesus says, “Don’t run in the hallway.” Wait a minute. Don’t run in the hallway! Are you freakin’ kidding me?

It’s one thing to remind one another of the exhortations and admonitions of the Lord as a way of encouraging one another toward working out our salvation with fear and trembling. It’s another thing entirely to use the words “Jesus says” to advance our own agenda—no matter how good, admirable, or honorable that agenda may seem—when Jesus clearly has not said. Talk about taking the Lord’s name in vain! Blasphemy!

I wonder how many of us who profess Christ and desire a good outworking in our lives and communities succumb to the temptation to say “Jesus says” (or more commonly “the Bible says”) and then quote a verse laden with a popular interpretation that lends the weight of authority to our agenda? Sometimes we just dispense with the “Jesus says” or “the Bible says” and rely upon the assumption that if a good and godly man or woman is saying it, it must be God’s will. He just forgot to say it or put it in the Bible.

And we good and godly men and women, do we sometimes know what we’re doing when we wrap ourselves in the flag of righteousness to accomplish our agenda but do it anyway because the good end justifies the blasphemous means? And how much greater is that temptation when the good and godly man or woman speaks from a place of authority—perhaps from behind a pulpit—and “just this once” would like to move the agenda forward without all the seemingly eternal, infernal grappling that goes on when good and godly men and women see things differently. Maybe if we saw it for what it is—blasphemy—the temptation might be a little easier to resist. Or not.

For those of you who wonder and worry on my behalf (thank you, by the way), I did find the restroom “in time”. I made it back to my seat in the auditorium while the speaker continued on with his stem-winder. But somehow I couldn’t get fully re-engaged. I was too busy thinking about blasphemy. Since then I’ve been plagued with a (hopefully) sanctified suspicion and skepticism when I’m exhorted beyond reason to, or enjoined from, this or that action simply based on authority without benefit of clear reason and certainly if the exhortation/enjoining runs contrary to reason. Hopefully that’s respectful reticence and not simply rebellion.


Oh, and don’t run in the hallways.


Posted in 2014 Posts, Attitude, Humility, Principles | Leave a comment