A Teaching Moment Missed

He did something kind for the harried server at the busy family restaurant.

She said, “Thank you.”

Later, one of the man’s companions said, “Just what was that ‘thank you’ from the server? Why should you care. I don’t care anything about her.”

A second companion agreed. Then the next. And the next. Until it was five wondering why care about the server.

Jesus said, “And the second [commandment] is like the first, you shall love your neighbor.”

This was a group of people who, if you asked them, would profess to be Christians. 


I get the feeling that they are more similar to the Pharisees than to Jesus. Religious rules. Care more for themselves than for others.

That feeling is almost a national crisis. I think it is the underlying cause of our political divisiveness. It does not matter which end of the spectrum you find yourself. So often it seems that people are more interested in themselves than in others.

I self-identify as “liberal” because of the peace and justice movements of the 50s and 60s. But that isn’t “liberal” any longer. Big city people tell me I’m conservative (because I’m personally conservative in finances and ethics). But I do not self-identify with those people either. 

But, I digress.

Was that a teaching moment?

Jesus would have answered. He’d have had a cute story with a sharp point. It would have left them thinking. Sometimes people were converted because of his stories. Sometimes they went away sad.

In my case (being the man in the story), the big pitch came across the plate, and I whiffed.

Do we let teaching moments slide by because we don’t wish to seem obnoxious? Or, we seek to avoid confrontation or bad scenes? Or, because we give up and believe that people so focused on themselves can not be brought to an understanding of others?

Or–just a lack of courage?

There was a teaching moment to try to get people with Jesus in their heads to Jesus in their hearts. And I failed Jesus.

Maybe not the next time.

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