Thursday, November 18, 2004

Hello, My Name is Mel

Mel (not his real name) is a jerk -- plain and simple. He has attended church for decades -- even served in a leadership capacity for some time. But instead of becoming more like Jesus -- instead of becoming more winsome and approachable -- all he has to show for his time spent in church and in Bible study is a judgmental arrogance that alienates others and distances them from him. He's become less like Jesus in the past few years -- not more like the one he's supposedly trying to follow. Everything is a big deal. Every point of doctrine is a salvation issue, and if you don't agree with him -- look out. He'll let you have it in as public a way as possible. He's petty, small-minded and downright mean.

What's weird is that no one seems to be surprised by this. Oh, that's just Mel. We expect him to know more and do more, but we don't expect him to really change.

And Mel is this way -- not in spite of the way we do church but precisely because of the way we do church. We reward cranky, bitter people by inviting them to sit on committees and teach Bible classes. We tell new Christians that if they just apply themselves, one day they can become more like Mel.

And we wonder why they never come back.

Oh, how I really want to blast Mel. Tell him what's what. Give him what for. I could probably do it, too. I could take him. I'm smarter than he is. I've read more than he has. I know more Greek than he does. I could take him.

But when I catch my reflection in plate glass window right now I see how much I'm starting to look like him. The things that most repulse me in Mel are easily discerned in my own heart. I'm petty. I can be pretty small-minded. I can get downright mean if pushed hard enough. I'm an arrogant jerk -- often.

I, too, miss the mark regularly. Before I throw a rock at Mel, I better take a long look inside.