Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Easy Living

Some people are easy to live with. Others are just as easy to live without. Dr. Leslie Parrot suggested the real test of maturity is “the ability to make ourselves easy to live with.”

Parrot further observed that many people will never reach this goal: “They will be hard to live with until the day they die.” In other words, heaven will require radical surgery if they are going to be people to enjoy forever.
A minister visited a lawyer friend. The lawyer told the preacher of a conversation he had with his grandchild not long before. As Grandpa prepared to leave, the little one looked up at Grandpa and said he wished Grandpa wouldn’t leave. When asked why, the child answered, “Because when you’re here, Daddy and Mommy are more patient with me.“

This is a common affliction, even among us church folk. Consider the observation Dr. Paul Rees offered in a sermon. My dear friends, declared the preacher, “we have had at times a kind of eloquence in a camp meeting or a holiness convention that seemed seraphic--Oh, how heavenly it was!----but there was nothing that corresponded to it in the patience that was demonstrated by the preacher, let us say with his own wife and children in the home.”

Someone else adds that “swifter than the speed of an arrow from an Indian’s bow comes the all-too-justified accusation that some holiness people simply are not holy.” Most of us have seen local churches that just as well close their doors because everybody knows that group of people can’t get along together, so why go there? The rest of us find life hard enough without joining ourselves to a group of people who are hard to live with.

However, I have been around enough churches to know that not all churches are that difficult and not all Christians are at odds with each other. It is true, I have run into my share of people that are hard to live with; they are in Sunday school classes, on Trustee boards, on the job, and even in the community.

You do not have to be a compromiser to be easy to live with, claims Glenn Black. Superintendent of the Kentucky Wesleyan Church, Black suggests you are not a weak-kneed or spineless Christian if you are easy to live with at church (I would add at home and elsewhere).

Rather, it is a mark of emotional, mental, and spiritual maturity to be easy to live with (God’s Revivalist and Bible Advocate, 3-08 “Easy to Live With,” p.8.). It is a mark of wholeness, that level of living without which no man shall see God. Did not St. Paul remind us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).

As often as not, the crisis of getting along peaceably with others lies with us--not others. Therefore, let us not be so myopic and stubborn that we refuse to explore all possible means of living peaceably with others.

For my part, I do not want God to need to do radical surgery on me to make me easy to live with, either here or on life’s other side--forever.

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