Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stupid Christian Tricks

You may be wondering about the title so I will address that first. I borrowed it from David Letterman – The Late Night talk show host. He has a bit where pets come out on stage and do “Stupid Animal Tricks”. It can be quite humorous but ultimately the formula is simple…you have the animal…it does a trick…and its rather stupid.

I borrow from this title but insert Christian, not because we get on stage and intentionally perform stupid yet entertaining bits but rather because the formula works. All of the elements are there…Christians, stupidity, and well tricks might better be called behavior. Since you are probably confused, let me dive into the story that got everything started.

It was a rather humid Friday night. Our Sunday school class had elected not to do its usual meeting with couples, Bibles, and structure. Rather, the leader invited men only to a ‘social gathering’ since the women quite frequently sponsored girls-night-out-type occasions. Furthermore, the decision had been made to meet at a fellow member’s home to play No-Stakes Poker. As I pulled into the driveway, two others had just arrived as well. Mitch, the host of the evening, welcomed us with a boisterous greeting and quickly offered us a drink.

Hmm. What kind of drink? I thought. I could sure use a beer on this humid night. Besides, we are all adults and I know Kurt sometimes has a brew. I can just taste that first crisp gulp…let’s see what he has.

Mitch directed us to his outdoor fridge in the garage and sure enough there was a host of possibilities…cokes, juices, waters, and mmm, mmm, beer. Well by shear chance of how we had filed into the garage, I was lined up to be the last man to reach into the icy cool fridge and part of me was glad. I wanted to see what the other two men retrieved before diving straight for the beer and ‘looking’ unsavory.

Ok…here goes Kurt. I know that he has the occasional cerveza, I’ve seen it first hand. His arm is stretching, his fingers are wriggling toward the goal…damn…he selected the diet coke.

Ok. New guy, Chad I think, is up to bat. He looks like he can put away a brew or two. Go for it man, set the precedent…I am right behind you. Aww, crap…some juice. I’m not even very thirsty for anything else. What am I going to do? Well, I can’t just suddenly act like I am uninterested in a drink when just minutes before I was excitedly skipping into the garage. There. I’ll deal with a Sprite…but I am not happy about it.

“Y’all ready to go inside?” says Mitch as I snap out of my daze and inner dialog.

“Yeah, let’s get the fun started,” I say as I head toward the house inwardly a bit disappointed.

Fast forward about 1 hour and 9 hands into the poker game...Mitch stands up and declares boldly, “Well guys, I am going out to the garage to get a beer. Who else wants one?” Simultaneously and overwhelmingly, everyone of us raised a hand in the air and said, “I do.” How comical, how interesting, how STUPID! We had all been sitting there licking our lips, having the same inner dialog that I had but none were willing to jump first. None were willing to be real…WHY?

Now maybe you can understand the title…we have the Christians, we have the Tricks (or behavior), and now we have the Stupid. I knew when I witnessed this event, that I had fully participated in, that I needed to make a mental snapshot. At first, I thought it was just a humorous tidbit that I could tell later for a good laugh. Upon further examination, I have made very different conclusion. It was just sad.

Sad, not for the reasons you might think. I am glad we all shared a beer that night. It was sad because we had to or thought it best to put on a fake persona for the benefit of ‘looking’ good in front of Christian brothers. Why can’t we just be real in front of each other? Why do we live with dual identities, sometimes triple identities? I understand the need for some decorum. I even understand that some behavior is acceptable in certain situations and in others it is not. But there was no reason (or at least no good reason) that the above event had to go down that way.

How wonderful would it be to have a friend, a group, a spouse where being you was just fine? Yet, to some degree or another we keep little things hidden. Be it a desire for a cold brew or sharing a story of past ill repute. Listen. We are all humans and therefore sinners. What are we hiding from? Certainly not God. Make an effort, even if it is just in a small setting to find one place, just one where you can be your honest self. Not celebrating faults and sins and social gray areas like drinking but celebrating the people. Give all the glory to God, celebrate the people, and be honest and true to your ONE identity.

I for one am going to make the effort and look forward to the new relationships and levels of intimacy it may spawn.

Feel free to leave a comment about a Stupid Christian Trick you have encountered or been a part of…


MTR said...

Great post (and great title too)!

MTR said...

Great post! Great title too!