Saturday, November 14, 2009

being graceful about the switch

if you hang around me at all, it won't be long before you hear me talk about the importance of subversion and being a virus to the system. i think the reversals that Jesus talks about - the poor inheriting the kingdom, the last being first, the Messiah coming for the sick instead of the healthy - point towards the holy, hidden heart of the gospel

because of this belief one would think that i would be gracious when my short sighted expectations are upset or when i am confronted with an annoying experience of injustice in a rather ordinary situation. unfortunately, that is far from the case.

when i listened to last week's sublime bait and switch episode of this american life, i was blindsided by my own lack of grace. act one, "neighborhood watch," features a story of an unsuspecting suburban couple who repeatedly report an abandoned car to the local police and are repeatedly rebuffed by the boys in blue. when, persuaded by signs of struggle within the car, they finally dig into the glove box and trunk in an attempt to identify the owner, they are immediately arrested by the same police who ignored their earlier appeals. i don't want to kill the story altogether, but it turns out that the car was bait and the couple was immediately caught on the line.

as the story unfolds, i was overwhelmed by the graciousness of the couple as they were treated like criminals, forced to hire lawyers and compelled to cop to something they did not do. at no point did they refer to the police as farm animals, fully exercise their first amendment rights or, shortly after the belated resolution of these matters, personally call the police to taunt and insult them. i'm not proud to admit this, but these are the type of things i have done in the past and will be tempted to do in the future.

when i subvert others intentions or attempt to change the system, i am stunned when they refuse to respond in a gracious or at least an "adult" manner. yet, when i am the subject of such reversals, i am an insufferable twit. this fundamental hypocrisy blights my character and calls me to repentance.

if we were all at soybean bible college, i would say that this episode will really "preach." i've heard the message and will try to go forth and live out the graciousness that i expect from others.

one final note, the second act includes an interview with jim henderson, who runs the doable evangelism site and is a friend of the gathering. it also has an interesting aside about how evangelicals have sometimes used the expectation of sex and other questionable bait to finagle an audience for the gospel.

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