January 20, 2011

Conviction and Coffee

I was reading at a coffee shop today as I tend to do on most Thursdays. I go there to read in private while enjoying a better cup of coffee then I would make for myself. One day I really must examine this strange phenomenon of going out in to a public location to be alone. Never the less that was what I was doing.

For most of the time I would say I was quite successful. I was greatly enjoying reading a new book I picked up. In fact saying I was enjoying it might well be an understatement. Instead I was caught up in a wonderful conversation between myself, the author and God. I was simultaneously listening to the critique the author was giving of intellectual culture and feeling a ping of conviction.

Then it happen. As if from across a great chasm I heard a voice speaking to me. I think I ignored it for a moment but it persisted. I emerged from my inner world, back to the coffee shop to see a goofy looking man was an scraggly beard standing beside me grinning like an idiot.

In that moment, as I looked at him I think I hated him a little.

He was standing directly in front of a window so his face was slightly obscured by shadows. I stared at him blankly waiting to be informed of why I was being interpreted. He continued, 'You went to Millwood High right?' I had, and I squinted some to try to discern who this person was. I stood to see him better and remove the glare from his face. Neither helped me, I had no idea who this person was.

It turns out he didn't really know me either, because he asked for my name, than supplied his own. He informed me that he had graduated in 2000 and he asked  if I have graduated in 2001. He then asked me; what was new?

It took a great deal of effort to suppress the very sarcastic answer I wanted to give. I wanted to say 'If you can tell me one thing I did while I was in high school, that was not common to every person in Millwood I will tell you something that I have been up too since high school.' Instead we exchanged stats; you know married or single, number of kids, line of work all the sorts of things you talk about with people you don't really know.

The conversation ended shortly there after and I went back to reading. However I did not or could not return to the meaningful conversation I had left to participate in the meaningless one that just ended.

That being said, this may well have been a God ordained moment. My morning excursion has confirmed something that I was feeling convicted about lately. There is something insidious trying to well up inside me. It is sort of a pride mixed with annoyance and a smug self-righteousness. I have felt it stocking me lately, always sitting somewhat out of my direct line of view yet always present. This morning this internal predator sought to consume me.

I am not sure where it started. I've always had a bit of a know it all tendency, yet it has never been quite like this. I think it may have a lot to do with my passion to show Christianity to be intellectually stimulating, and fulfilling. I find myself battling the citadel of idiocy, chipping away at it or at least barking at it like an angry dog. I sometimes like to imagine myself in some sort of heroic light, trying to battle almost hopelessly against the darkness of ignorance coming both from those who proclaim Christianity and those who defame it.

I may want to think of myself as heroic, but the attitude that sought to claim me was anything but.

How can I tell someone that God loves them, but that I can't stand the sight of them? Or that Jesus died for them but that I'd sooner push them into a ditch then talk with them? I am finding myself saying 'God loves you' but in my heart of hearts thinking 'but for the life of me I don't know why'.

How does one share the gospel with someone when the thought of spending eternity with them makes you shutter?

This isn't really a blog that has any answers. I know what I need is a big dose of humility; which I shall now go and work on.

No this is more meant as a cautionary tale. God showed me the dangerous path I was treading before I traveled too far. Thus far the worst I was doing was being ever so annoyed and unjustly cynical to people I disagreed with. But it is not as far of a trip as one might imagine from cynical to critic, or critic to judge, and judge to a person who is more Pharisee-like than Christlike.

While I was following my passion, and trying to nurture my heart and mind and soul something dark was smuggled in. I find myself reminded that not all things evil and sinful appear as such. Remember, 'Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4:23 NLT.

Convicted in the nick of time


  1. You put to words what a lot feel... you were just the braver of us... and convicted :)

  2. Hey - I know you posted this a while ago but just read it now. First of all, I think it is so easy to fall into that Christian smugness, and good for you for recognizing it. I hope God continues to convict you and helps you find ways to reach out meaningfully.

    But what I really wanted to say is that this post made me think of a magnet I bought for my sister once that says "Jesus Love you - But I'm his favorite". Hilarious.