There are some places where you can really hide who you are. Church for instance. We all put on a really nice face, smile and say hello. No matter how late you are running, how long it took your kids to eat their breakfast, how many times you had to search for your little boys Bible, or pick up his offering he had dropped for the seventh time, when you walk through those glass doors it’s as if you’ve had an extreme make-over. Our lives are bliss!
Not so much with the grocery store…In the grocery store, no one pretends. If you are not someone who likes to chit chat, at church you still stop and give the obligatory few words, but in the grocery store you duck down the cleaning aisle to avoid contact. At church you wait patiently for your slightly long winded Pastor to wrap things up, at the grocery store you dart from line to line figuring out which one will be the fastest.
Grocery store theology, I got a good dose of my own this past week.
At this point it must be explained that I teach a ladies Sunday School class. For the past months we have been focusing on the Grace of Our Lord. Really trying to grasp the idea that He loves us because He is good, not because we are. We have been taking a hard look at the church and how we still buy into the idea that it is our merit, our service, our adherence to the rules that makes us worthy.
We have looked closely at the words of Paul in Phillipians 3 where he says he above anyone has the right to be confident in his flesh, he a Hebrew among Hebrews, circumcised on the eight day..you get the point. But then to the surprise of most of his ancient readers he zings them, us, with “I consider it all a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.” He gets even more radical when he tells them he considers all of his past stuff rubbish! In other words, none of my stuff counts, it’s Jesus who counts.
Okay, so I am the teacher, I should get this, right??? Well, maybe in church I get it, maybe in front of the ladies, I say I get it, but this past Sunday, in the grocery store, I didn’t get it at all.
My 4 year old has been sick for the last few days so on Sunday we all stayed home from church. At about 11:30 I went to the grocery store to pick up some aluminum foil of all things. I was dressed in sweats, hair pulled back in a pony tail, glasses still on. Well, wouldn’t you know it. As I am walking across the parking lot along drives one of our church members. I smile and give a wave and then instantly start trying to walk slower so they can catch up and I can tell them why I wasn’t in church, somehow work it into the conversation. Forget liberty in Christ, forget all things being a loss compared to His surpassing greatness, forget everything I had said for the past 6 six months in Sunday School. All I could think was why are they taking so long to park!!! Don’t they know I have to explain to them why I am dressed like this, why I wasn’t in church.
Finally, I reach the store doors and am forced to go in. My next plan, circle around the aisle so I can tell them. Well, that doesn’t work either. Also, I couldn’ t figure out a good way to work in Josh being sick without it seeming awkward so I grab the aluminum foil and head to the check out. At this point I am so pathetic that I actually consider trying to work the whole topic into small talk with the cashier. Now wouldn’t that have made her feel great about herself, me justifying why I wasn’t in church while she stands there at work. What a great testimony that would have been!
So home I went.
How thankful I am that my grocery store theology is whacked at best! How thankful I am that Paul is right, it is all rubbish. It is not a righteousness of my own that makes me whole, it is not how often I am in church and smiling, it is a righteousness that comes through Christ alone.
Oh, I want to live in it!