A couple of New Years back one of our neighbors invited us over for a party. Probably half a dozen couples showed up. Would you have gone? We did. But what if the drinks weren’t kosher? They weren’t. We drank right along with them; we just drank different stuff. Sodas are not our beverage of choice, but for the privilege of spending a couple of hours with some of the sweetest people in the community, we might even imbibe a soda.
Jesus got in trouble for that, too, you know. We have the address of some of the parties He went to…Matthew’s house, for instance (Matt 9:10) and the wedding in Cana (John 2:1,2). I find it more than a little interesting that among some of His critics He had a reputation as a glutton and a drunkard (Luke 7:34). Now neither charge was true, but the word was out that it was not unthinkable to find Him at a party. That’s my cue.
Here’s where I’m going with this: Long before it was mandated by the government, some of us were practicing social distancing. We grew up being told, “We don’t associate with those kids. They do things we don’t do. They go places we don’t go. They sing songs we don’t sing.” Okay, but if we’re going to win their friendships and help them see they can trust us, we’re probably going to have to “mingle.” When I began selling Christian books as a kid my coach taught me, “If you’re going to try and sell somebody something it helps if they like you a little bit.”
I want those I care about to ask why. I want them to question my conduct. Someone pulls into my lane of traffic without signaling and I have to brake hard. I want my unbelieving passenger to ask why I didn’t give him a blast with my horn or make some obscene gesture. Someone close to me dies; I want my neighbor to ask how I’m able to survive that kind of loss without falling into a deep depression.
My boss treats me unfairly at work, I want my neighbor (who was also at the party…) to ask me why I didn’t unload and tell him how I really felt. The neighbor felt comfortable asking because we had spent an hour on New Years Eve talking about the Kansas City Chiefs. Mingling.
I’m blessed by the way the Message paraphrases Peter’s counsel (I Pet 3:15), “Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.” I’m not chasing him down the street waving a book in my hand, I’m praying that he’ll feel led to ask me a question that will open the door for the conversation I want to have.
By Don Jacobsen