Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Save Me from the Gripers

I know a religious lady who claims to be a Christian who publisihes a gripe about every five minutes of her waking moments. Mostly she gripes about the people around her; and, I am convinced she must gripe about me once I am out of her sight.

We have a lot of "cultural Christians", many, many such, who religiously perform "Christian" rites (associated with the church) but whose life can hardly be distinguished from a non-Christian when they are away from church functions. They even gripe about the preacher, the selected hymns, the choir, the ushers, the temperature in the sanctuary, the other people who come to functions. And, they fail to see the selfish toxin they spread and multiply in themselves. It is difficult to be around them for long.

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A story is told about a man who wanted to be a monk in a monastery, so he took the vows and began his novitiate.

"For the first year, you must work daily in the garden, and keep silent."

So he did his daily work without a word. At the end of that time, the Abbot said he could speak two words.

"Hard Bed", said the novice.

He was chastised and told he had to work another year in silence. At the end of that time, he once again was give the opportunity to say two words.

"Bad Food", he replied.

This time he was told he must work two years in silence, in the garden, the kitchen and mopping floors. At the end of that time he was brought before the Abbot again and given two words.

"I quit.", he spoke.

"Well, it's just as well," said the Abbot. "You have done nothing but gripe ever since you have been here.

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I think griping is a very aggressive way, a very negative aggressive way of walking through life. It is possible the griper is not consciously aware of their constant harangue. A griper may be like the preacher who says, "Dear God," fifteen times when he utters a pastoral prayer. [That's the religious version of the secular person who says, "you know" over and over in conversation.] The griper probably does not know how bitter and negative they sound. And they may not even be aware of their words.

But others are. And others are aware that the griper makes a choice not to be thankful for life. The griper plays out his/her life from a cess pool of daily pain and rotting relationships. He does not trust the rule of thanksgiving. Nor is the call to "come into the presence of the Lord with thanksgiving" answered in their life.

David Scholer is a very popular New Testament professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer five years ago. It has now spread to both lungs, and he has asthma, diabetes and arthritis. Students say that his most important lesson is the importance of living with ambiguity; and, to ponder Paul's 1st Thessalonians statement, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances."

When you give thanks to God for all things in your life, daily, one-by-one, the good things and the bad things, it absolutely transforms your life. You become a joy and a blessing to those you meet.