Published January 25, 2011

Paul's Epistle...
"Lessons From A Flat Tire"

Are you ever surprised by the actions of other people you assume to be Christians?

Back when I was just a few years out of college, I was working the early-morning news shift at a local radio station. At the time, this required me to get to the station by about 5 a.m. The work load was tremendous at that time of day, so getting there late wasn't an option. The newscasts I was to prepare and deliver simply wouldn't wait.

One particularly snowy winter mid-week morning, I was just a few blocks from the center-city studios of the station when I had what every motorist fears, especially in bad weather — a flat tire. I knew immediately that I had no time to replace the tire or even, at that point, to call for assistance. I mean, there were already four or five inches of snow on the ground! And, as any broadcaster can tell you, there are no busier mornings in the newsroom than snowy mornings.

I happened to be passing the parking lot of a large and well-known downtown church, so I managed to get the car into the lot and into an out-of-the-way corner before walking about two blocks through the snow to the station. I felt comfortable in knowing (or expecting) that the church people would not mind my placing the disabled car there until after my shift when I could attend to it.

I was wrong. It was no later than mid-morning when I received a call from the church secretary, curtly letting me know in no uncertain terms that my car was to be removed, and it was to be removed NOW! The fact that it had a flat tire didn't seem to matter. Doing a poor job of hiding my surprise, I said something to the effect that I parked there because I thought the church people would be understanding. That didn't matter to her a bit. The car had to go. And it had to go now!

As I recall, I phoned my dad (a pastor) and he either fixed the tire or called a garage to do it. But my point is that, in my naiveness, I thought these "Christians" would be understanding of my plight, especially since I had left a note promising to repair and remove the car later that day.

I relearned a significant lesson that day: Not all who call themselves Christians act in a manner pleasing to God.

That "life lesson" saddened me. I worked all day in a secular environment, and I'm sure most of the people there would have treated even a stranger in a more understanding way.

It also saddened me because, rightly or wrongly, one would expect anyone representing a Christian church (such as the church secretary) to be representing Christ as well. One would expect a Christlike spirit. It wasn't there.

But what saddened me most is that if I, as a Christian, were treated this way, how would they treat a non-Christian? What impression would an unsaved person get of Christianity if someone representing a church would treat them in such a manner? Would they say, "Now that person has something that I want!" Or would they say, "If that's Christianity, I want no part of it! They're obviously all hypocrites!"

As we live our lives every day, we are to be representatives of Christ in everything we do. We cannot afford, for the sake of Christ, to do anything which would be unlike Christ. This is especially true when needs present themselves. 1st John 3:17-18 puts it this way: "...if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him, how can God's love be within him? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions." (LB)

We are, as Paul reminds us, "ambassadors for Christ." (2 Cor. 5:20.) Ambassadors are representatives. How are you, in your everyday words, deeds and interactions with others, representing Christ?

- Paul

Note: This column originally published here 2003.
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