I was intrigued by something in Francis Chan’s new book _Multiply_. (By the way, I saw it at Sam’s Club in paperback for under 10 bucks.) Anyway, Chan talks about the gospel affecting our lives (he’s talking about discipleship). It’s kind of like he saying the gospel should make us nicer.
Now being nice is not something I’m widely known for. But I am trying to work on that. Selectively, I admit. But I am aware and I am talking to God about this. Indeed for some of us, sanctification takes longer than others of you. Lewis talked about this in _Mere Christianity_… remember Dick Firkin and Miss Bates? I think it was the chapter “Nice People and New Men”. The point being, some of us have further to go than others of you as far as niceness is concerned.
So I had this dream (yes, I was up at 4, thank you jet lag), it was pretty vivid. I was working at Kroger (did you know I spent 21 years with Kroger?). I was all alone working the checkout line. There was a long line of customers. And this is the thing I remember about this dream, I was just working really hard to be nice to everyone. Unusual.
See, it’s really easy when you’re under great pressure to get frustrated and then to show that frustration by impatience and rudeness. (Like me at the movies the other night.) I think this is our natural inclination… to be abrupt and even rude, it is a reflection of selfishness, of wanting our own way, what Lewis calls ‘the great sin’… pride.
So next time you’re in my local grocery store (not a Kroger), where there are usually 10 people in each of two lines and the poor cashier is under pressure and therefore not very nice, remember they didn’t make the schedule which put only two cashiers in the store at that time.
Chan suggests that, as the Gospel changes me, if I’m nice to them, they may be nice to the next person and then who knows? This is a very small way that the gospel can influence the culture in that moment and that place. I agree.
See, further back in line, quietly observing, is your neighbor or colleague, who is quietly wondering if the Gospel you are talking to them about is actually real.