I have been practicing my juggling act and sword swallowing, but I'm not good enough yet to hit the road. Oh wouldn't it be nice to travel, see the world and not be responsible for your neighbors? I have to admit it, it sure sounds nice. But alas, I haven't found a good enough act yet.
Yesterday, on a comment feed to my last blog, I found posted one of the funniest and personally enjoyable comments ever. The person didn't leave their name, but their comments really got me laughing & thinking. (The writing was colorful and uniquely creative, I loved it!) It challenged me to consider, for the first time in my life, finding a good money making act, buying an RV and hitting the road. Here is what they wrote...
"It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier than thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor."
These comments were directed at me because I guess I am the man with the distorted judgmental face? I guess I am the one acting holier than thou, I guess I am the one who doesn't offer a washcloth to my neighbor? All because I had the nerve to suggest in my previous post that when people sin God doesn't like it.
So he or she accuses me of having a "traveling road-show" mentality. If only it were that simple?
Traveling road show guys are usually trying to woo the crowds with words that "tickle ears" and perform amazing spectacular feats that bring in quick cash. Road show guys are in town for the night and out the next morning. Road show guys love the lime-light.
Now if you were to describe me and my job, I am not the road show guy. I am the lowly wayside pastor. These two kind of jobs are vastly different roles that have uniquely different responsibilities. Here is why:
(1) Telling people they need to stop sinning on a weekly basis, as a lowly pastor must constantly do, does not bring in the crowd. Instead of tickling ears, preaching about the ills of "drunkenness, adultery and being a sluggard" causes many people to leave and look for a large church run by a smooth talking a traveling salesman that will gladly tell you what you want to hear. (ie. Joel Osteen)
(2) Lowly wayside pastors are not too spectacular. We are rather boring, often working in the lives of the same families for two to three generations. I can't even count how many wash clothes (tissues more like it) I have given out, all-nighters spent with kids, tears shed with dying grandpas or lunch meetings with cheating & humiliated husbands. Long term relationships that mature in the context of a small town have a way of dispelling the sparkle of the spectacular. You can only impress people for a few years until the novelty wears off!
(3) Lime-light is the last word I would use to describe the pastor's call. Really, who would want a job that makes half the pay of a traveling comedian or politician, but still expected to be just as good a speaker with new material week after week? Being invited into the living rooms of dying people doesn't bring you a lot of glory. Going into homes of marriages where couples can't even talk to each other isn't what I would call glamorous. Bandaging up the damage from people destroying their lives by drinking too much and killing someone, or committing adultery and seeing wives and kids destroyed, or trying to motivate 35 year old kids to get a job doesn't win you a large fan base.
If only I could be part of a Traveling Road Show then I would be able to care less about what people do with their lives. I guarantee you I wouldn't preach on sin. I think my material would consist of what the commentator on my blog said is what Christianity is all about...it would be my main by-line and I would rake in millions. Here is what they said a true Christian is about:
"I'm after mercy, not religion."
Yeah, I love it, give me more, give me more. Can't you hear the cool college students cheering while they are swaying to rockin' praise music loving the idea of having a Christ without the Christianity? Man, I don't have to commit to rules, I can do as I please, I can make up my own belief system! I love it! Traveling Road Show Guy, tell me what my itching ears want to hear. I could even have R.E.M. (I know I am dating myself) come out as a headliner singing the song, "Losing my Religion!" People would eat it up!
I was raised in a family of six kids. My dad hated it when I came home drunk, he never wanted us to bring our girlfriends or boyfriends into our room, and he wanted all of us to get a job after we graduated High School. Wasn't he a terrible father for wanting us to live under a certain set of behaviors and rules? One of my brothers who wanted to try life out on his own, far from the reaches of my dad's rules, decided to join a traveling Road Show, it was a high diving act, it was cool, it was fun, he didn't make much money. After a few years of living as he wished, he met a gorgeous woman and he got married, and they had kids of their own. Guess what, he bought a house and started giving his family rules in the home to live by. How dare the traveling road show guy turn domestic!!
I guess that happens when you grow up, you start living by mature expectations. You stop acting like an adolescent kid, and even accept truth into your life that isn't easy to hear. Face it, God wasn't judging us when he gave us the 10 Commandments, Paul wasn't judging when he said in 1 Corinthians 15:33-34...
"Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
Oh well, I guess I can still dream. I can see the bright lights, I can see the smiling crowd, and I can see me juggling 20 red rubber balls at once. But I am still working on juggling three at once.
I have a long way to go to be the traveling road show guy I always wanted to be!