My Turn, Roger Barbee: A better way
Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 11, 2022
Some years ago I led a men’s Sunday School class in Woodstock, Virginia. When we were studying Job, a member of the class shared an experience he had had during the week. He was a supervisor for a company that performed maintenance on I-81, and his crew and he were working on exit ramps. Tim explained that English was a second language for most of his crew, but some of the workers were better speakers of English, and he managed to communicate with them all in order to get the work done. One day during a morning break, one of the crew approached him and asked in an almost timid way. “We’ve been wondering, Mr. Tim, what religion you are, if you’ll tell us.” Tim explained that he had never discussed religion with his crew, but he told them what Christian religion he belonged.
Our class had a great discussion about Tim’s story and how, even though he had never proselytized to any member of his crew, they had sensed, by his words and deeds, that he was religious. They just didn’t know of what religion, but were curious.
Many times through the years I have recalled Tim’s story and what it means for us Christians. In Matthew 5-7 we are given the Sermon on the Mount and later in chapter 28 we are given the Great Commission. That seems to me to be quite a bit of directive on how to live if we are Christ followers. However, if these words prove difficult to follow, Edgay A. Guest states it all easily enough in his poem The Better Way:
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way;
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds;
For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.
I can soon learn how to do it if you’ll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run;
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
The current political chatter from some elected officials who suggest that we adopt Christian Nationalism as our new way of doing things has caused me to once again recall Tim’s story. Take a moment and think about it: Language is somewhat of a barrier, but the crew and Tim overcome that issue to accomplish the necessary work. How? They do it because Tim followed the words of Jesus and Guest: Be kind, be patient, and show generosity. With those virtues present, language became secondary in order to accomplish complex tasks.
It seems to me that we don’t need Christian Nationalism or any other manmade creation to help us in our complicated lives. As a Christ follower I try to adhere to the words cited above in Matthew believing that that is the better way; but if not that, just follow those of Guest and watch wondrous things happen.
Roger Barbee lives in Mooresville. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org