So much social change and so much negativity in the midst of it.
I have seen a lot of social change in my life time. I am a 58 year old, and came to Canada in 1967. Canada celebrated its 100th anniversary that year. On March 10th 2017, I will have been in Canada 50 years. It is hard to believe how fast the time has gone. You need only scan the historical timelines of the major events and issues of each of the last five decades to see how far we have come as a nation, and how far the Western world has come. In my own lifetime, Canada has legalized abortion, has implemented gun control, has abolished the death penalty, had decriminalized homosexuality, has embraced marriage equality, or as it is called in Canada, “same sex marriage”.
The Body of Christ in Canada found a way to live “in the tension” of marriage equality.
Canada was among the first nations to embrace marriage equality over a decade ago. All of my Christian and religious friends who railed against it and said the country was doomed for embracing it, have found out after a decade, that God did not smite anyone in the nation over gay marriage, and there were no rolling thunder claps or lightning flashes from the heavens! Everything carried on as per normal. Canadians as a whole embraced supporting gay couples, with a “live and let live” mindset. The government of the day used a well used Canadian approach to resolving what to many were irreconcilable differences through the fine political art of compromise! This compromise that was established by Paul Martin’s Liberal government, was a true Canadian piece of legislation that was a compromise if there ever was one. But there was much angst and anxiety in our society, and the cultural groups within our Canadian multicultural mosaic. But we have persevered and we have done better as the years have moved on from that socially definable moment. We found out that the “world did not end” as so many false prophets prophesied.
US Christians appear to be playing the victim card, the rights card, at the expense of other citizens.
I had many US friends who were concerned over the last year when marriage equality exploded on the US national stage. From coast to coast there were debates, rallies, protests, you name it you had it. Of significance even now are the pieces of legislation being enacted by various conservative legislatures in the US that are passing laws that restrict rights and services to the LGBTQ community, all in the name of protecting someone else’s “faith” or “religious freedom”. You have major US corporations that are at the very least amoral and flies their flag whichever the wind blows, and right now the wind blows for the LGTBQ community and its supporters. So you now have US big business threatening various states that pass similar restrictive laws with boycotts of their states. Sports entertainment and major recording artists have cancelled concerts in these states as well as threatened to cancel sports events like championship games for their respective leagues. All this is “big money” in many of these states and would affect the state economies. This is the way it is in 2016. People no longer talk rationally. Emotions run high, and people sue and counter sue, and people threaten the only way they will be heard. There is little to no civility or productive dialogue. As a Canadian, I find solace that in our country, we found a compromise and a way forward, that protected the rights of religious people and organizations to determine for themselves whether they could or should support marriage equality. I found that to be the best and most effective way to deal with the highly charged emotional issues that always come to the surface in heated debates of this kind.
The power of love, respect and compromise.
Over the decade, the compromise has proven to be a good one. The only area of a lack of compromise has been in the area where people provide services that to their own thinking undermines their religious beliefs. I am of the opinion that there should be a degree of toleration by the LGBTQ community toward small business owners who feel their beliefs are being attacked and undermined by offering their services to the LGBTQ community. I understand their hesitation to provide their services, but I do not agree with the people of faith who do not want to provide the services. The reason is quite simple.
No matter which faith you claim to hold, be it Christian or another kind, all faiths have tenets of love and acceptance as basic beliefs and mores to be lived out individually and corporately. As a self-confessed Christian, Jesus is my model and example on how to conduct myself. He modeled his ethics in culture that was not only governed by “rule of law” but was “law obsessed”, when it came to the application of “rules to the religious life”. He blew the Pharisees and Sadducees out of the water with his teaching and his practice. Jesus had and still has the same law, the “law of love” when Jesus said:
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12, NIV)
Love is the great motivator and the great reward.
Love was the primary teaching and action that was at the heart of the Christian Gospel. God so loved the world that he redeemed it through the obedience unto death, of the beloved Jesus the Nazarene, the incarnated “son of God” and his resurrection and glorification from the grave.
A review of the four Gospels and the Pauline and General Epistles of the New Testament will reveal and illustrate just how widely taught and accepted was the law of love. In the Gospel of John Jesus exhorts his disciples just before his betrayal, trial and execution. He calls them to a life of love. He says in John 13:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The power of “enemy love” produces life and grace, evidence of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus went even further. Jesus told his followers, as he tells those who claim him as Lord and God, that we who profess his name, we are called to “love our enemies”. In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, Jesus declares boldly and with great emphasis the kind and quality of that love, the very substance of it grates against our ego and mindsets. He says:
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We Christians are called to “perfection”, to act and express love in action perfectly in harmony to how Jesus did so while he was on the earth. We are called to be imitators of God, as Paul called the Early Church to walk in the “power of love” when he said to the church at Ephesus:
“1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5, NASB)
So today, I read a headline (above) that kind of just made me shake my head in disbelief. The summary is simply this. A gay waitress, Alexdandra Judd, from Charlotte, North Carolina, was left a “tip” from some religious women that had been waited on by her, that did not include any monetary gratuity for the service, but instead was left a note on the receipt with had Leviticus 20:13, a passage that condemns homosexuality, and a little note that said, “praying for you”. Apparently Judd was really upset by this and so much so that she posted the receipt with a selfie on her Facebook account and there, like most things of this kind, her post went viral on the social media feed.
So here I am today thinking about how far we have progressed as a society, and I get exposed to this kind of nonsense.
Ego is all over this. The ego of the woman who wrote on the receipt. The ego of the waitress Alexandra Judd who took offence to the note and no tip and the offer of prayer which she blatantly and out flat rejected as to not having need of or wanting prayer. Ego! Ego! Ego! It seems the ego has a field day with situations like this. When are we ever going to learn? When are we actually going to operate at a level of love and acceptance that reveals respect of others?
I am not going to defend Christians.
In fact I won’t even call out Christians. Christians already know how they are to act and behave, and be led by the Spirit to demonstrate love and grace toward others. Obviously that woman who wrote the note, was doing what her “religious mindset” compelled her to do, and not what the Spirit would have led her to do. I am not being critical and I am not judging here. It is as plain as the words I have quoted above. If you love someone, you act a certain way. Christians are called to love everyone, including their enemies. The last time I checked, that pretty well includes everyone! Am I right? Sure I’m right. You know I’m right!
A kind and gracious human being leaves a tip for services rendered in a dining establishment. It is good and fair and proper decorum, especially when you realize that waitressing is not the best paying of jobs in the first place. When a waitress provides good service, she should get a good tip. Or am I being old fashioned here? Of course she does!
Christians, you would think, who are taught the New Testament, and the ethic of love and grace in all circumstances, and who are taught as Paul illustrated, that one ought to “hold all our thoughts captive” (2 Corinthians 10: 5), that you would demonstrate goodness, love and grace, especially by one that serves you your meal. One guideline given by Paul is found in the book of Philippians, chapter 4. Paul exhorts the church at Philippi, and we ourselves as well, to have this ethic:
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (NIV)
The use of Scripture is to instruct and encourage and strengthen, and to lead to right and correct action. You just don’t dwell on these things that are true and noble and right and lovely. You act on them. You demonstrate through your life encounters and engagements with people, that this is your ethic in life. It is the furthest thing from being passive. It is active and engaging in every way.
There are more than enough New Testament Scriptures that exhort and encourage a love and kindness approach in dealing with people. Some of these include:
- “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-13, ESV)
- “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18, ESV)
- “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 4, ESV)
- “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10, ESV)
- “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
- “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Luke 6:31, ESV)
As you can see there is more than ample Scripture that encourages believers to love and act in gracious ways with people. It is not conditional. It is unconditional. Again, the ego can take over in a moment and derail a well intentioned act. The ego must be confronted and controlled by each person. Each person is responsible for the conduct of their own ego.
The greatest commandment given by Jesus was to love God and to love your neighbour, and he defined your neighbour as everyone else than yourself. So your family, your friends, you coworkers, anyone, anywhere, are covered under that word “neighbour”. As Christians we are commanded, and not suggested, to love God and love our neighbours, and to love our enemies. So, as Christians we are left with no excuses.
At the end of the day, there is no need to point fingers, but there is a need for love and understanding.
Several things have been raised in the reporting of this story. Issues of political correctness gone mad, issues of this being an insult to LGBTQ people, issues of banning the Bible, issues of intolerance toward gays. Let’s be clear here.
The facts speak for themselves and in this case, we lack some of the facts!
The “religious ladies” attended this eating establishment and were served by a gay waitress, and how they knew this we are not told. Was there a conversation? Was Ms. Judd wearing an LGBTQ pin of some kind that identified her as being gay? We do not know the situation or context. We only have the word of Alexandra Judd and a receipt, and we do not know if the receipt was an actual receipt that was penned by the alleged woman that made the written remarks, or if this is another case of someone with an axe to grind or a publicity stunt. We just don’t know. I am not making any kind of allegations about either party. I am just pointing out that there is not enough to go on to make a clear cut case about anything. Right now it is a classic case of “he said, she said” and we have no supporting evidence to support any clear cut decision on the matter. I wonder if there was video taken at the restaurant as in this other similar situation (see below).
One last point about the “religious lady” that allegedly wrote the note about “praying for you”. Whoever you are, you may be sincere in conveying how much you care for Alexandra Judd. However, however much you say you care, you should tip a server with a smile. Leave a good one to demonstrate just how thankful you are and to demonstrate the love of God you claim to have. As far as being a “witness” to this young woman, all I can say is that I am thankful you did not do the tacky thing of leaving a Gospel Tract on the table. No tip was bad enough. But to leave a tract and no tip is really tacky and does not bear witness to the young lady. As you could see from her sarcastic remark, she did not want or need your prayers. So please, let’s stop the cheesy infantile “restaurant evangelism”. Be real. Be authentic. Be a tipper. Be full of life and fun, and let the love of God within you just pour out. Make the waitress wonder and desire that thing that you have inside of you! It’s called “love”!
Stop with all the discrimination, please…
I believe it it wrong to discriminate and offend others intentionally, and especially so for Christians to do so. It is the antithesis of what Jesus taught us about love, loving God and others.
I also believe that people who are super sensitive to the issues of marriage equality and gay rights, no matter which side you take on the debate, they all need to chill and stop being defensive and offensive in how they deal with these issues of the heart and how they treat people.
The other problem you have is when someone is upset in the “age of social media”, these people go and post it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and blab it all over the internet, and they may even post a video about it on Youtube. The word gets out there and all it is, is your subjective experience, and the only counter to your experience is someone else who may have been a witness to the encounter, as in the video above.
All I am saying…
All I am saying is that I wish there was some decorum and mutual respect in our society. It seems more and more we are fast becoming rude and obnoxious and intolerant, all in the name of opinions and freedom of speech and freedom of expression. We need to return to civility and fair and open dialogue and communication.
I can see how this made the headlines today. LGBTQ is a big deal in contemporary society, even if this group of citizens is a small percentile of the larger community. They have a voice and it is being heard, and if you dare say anything against it, or oppose it, and have a differing view or opinion, you will suffer their wrath and their power of influence against you. I have seen way too many people all but destroyed by the LGBTQ lobby. THIS however does not mean they should not be heard. They need to be heard and understood.
There needs to be compromise and ongoing dialogue.
My only comment about “Christian tippers” is that the ones I know, do not target specific people. They seem to be cheap by nature. It is their disposition to not tip well. I have known many of them personally. I have also known non-Christians also have a predisposition to not tip at all.
The moral lesson here is what exactly?
- Christian, when you go out to eat, like any other social activity, remember who you claim to be, and be an good example of the love and grace of God, and tip handsomely the server who attends to your dining pleasure.
- Waiter or waitress, please keep doing your best, even if you are not tipped well. What goes around comes around. You will reap blessing in your life when you do the best you can for those you serve.
- LGBTQ person, I am sorry if this has happened to you. If you felt insulted by the comments or a note left by another person on the receipt/cheque, or a note or a card left with some offensive comments on it, I am sorry that it has offended you. If it was a Christian that said or did something offensive, I apologize. Jesus would never treat you that way.
- All people, listen up. It is time for mutual respect. It is time to conduct our lives responsibly and ethically. We need to honour and respect one another. Until we practice that in the most basic of ways and situations, like eating in public restaurants, our world around us will not improve.
As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.” It starts and ends with us.
~ Sam Buick