He grabbed the cheapest one and headed to the counter to pay for it.
He was buying it for someone who didn’t have one and was more than a little pleased with himself for being the kind of person who buys things for people in need.
He was delighted because:
- He was acting anonymously.
- there was no way the recipient would be expecting it
- they needed it badly
- He was using his personal money instead of the funds he could access as a pastor which are designated for helping people in need
It was especially this last ingredient which had him ever so pleased with himself.
But these others lined up at the till? Bunch of selfish jerks! Like the guy with a bunch of AA batteries. Self absorbed narcissist. Who needs that many batteries? Probably gonna just go home and change the batteries in his smoke detector or his remote control. Some people don’t even have remote controls to put batteries in! No consideration for the needs of others. No personal experience of the heart warming joy which comes when you sacrificially meet those needs. Those batteries wont keep you warm at night friend!
Unless, of course they are for a heater or electric blanket or something…in which case then yes they would keep you warm in the blunt physical sense…but there is a depth of soul warmth only available to the man spending his own money to meet the needs of others.
It occurs to our hero that this poor self absorbed battery man will never ever find the path to deep joy if he keeps the mission anonymous. Yes, it might be hard on his soul to get a bit of attention here for this generosity what with the rewards in this life canceling those in the next, but such is his benevolence he is willing to pay a bit of a personal eternal price for the good of his battery obsessed brother.
He begins to mentally script the conversation he will have with the girl at the counter. She is a friend of his daughter, so it will be easy to strike one up. She actually knows the person he is buying this for! Even better. It will be natural. His tone can be almost reluctant. He basically is forced to tell her about it (and if battery man overhears then so much the better) because next time she sees “so and so” they will be wearing the item he is anonymously purchasing with his own money and so she better not tell them who bought it because he wants to keep it on the down low.
It’s his turn at the till.
Then Jesus nudges him.
It isn’t the obvious Pharisee / King David / “You are the man!” kind of self awareness a-ha moment you’d think would be coming. Neither is it about the need to avoid having your deeds shine before men, nor even about your left and right hand needing to act independently of each other.
Jesus gives him a couple elbows to the conscience.
First: “Do to others what you would like them to do for you.”
He looks at the item in his hand and realizes he is buying a piece of crap. It hits him that he would never purchase or wear a garment of this design, quality, appearance, or cost. If someone were to buy it for him he would set it aside for a Christmas Party gift exchange or put it on the MCC pile.
But it is good enough for them.
Second: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
And that is when he gets the opportunity to make the decision if he wants to keep being a Christian or not.
Does he actually intend to try to obey everything Jesus commands, which of course is the intention of Christians. Or is he going to not be a Christian for awhile? Come back to it when it wont cost him as much.
Then some clarity. He suspects he has many un-Christlike reactions and thoughts which he doesn’t even know about. So probably when he notices one – he should pay attention.
He leaves the line and puts the item back on the shelf. He grabs the one he would buy if he was buying for himself.
He returns to the cashier a bit more self aware and a whole lot more humble.
This is to be expected.
But there is something else he is feeling which he totally didn’t see coming.
He feels really really safe.
There are reasons why he feels that way.
But he’d have to come to PAC Portage Sunday at @ 11 am to find out what they are.
I can guarantee he will be there. If it works out and isn’t awkward, I can maybe introduce you to him.