Monday, February 11, 2008

Fickle Followers

By Taft Ayers

I trip over them all the time. They sit right next to each other. Sometimes they seem to mock me.

Adidas made them, placed them on a rack and I encountered them months ago. I purchased them, brought them to our home, and have worn them maybe 10 times.

A few weeks ago I attempted to put them on and take them around the neighborhood before I went to bed. What a beautiful idea!

I decided to race against the clock before I went to bed; a new ritual. I knew that if I wore these highly priced shoes, they would transform me into a swift being that could burn some calories before retiring for the day. I would surely become the picture perfect model of physical fitness! If I would do this every night, I could gage my improvement based on my times that I kept on a stopwatch.

I took off out of the out racing world, I was on my way! About 200 yards into the run, I heard a tapping and dragging sound behind me. Paying no attention, I continued down our street. After reaching the end of our street, I turned and noticed a black dog that was gaining on me quickly.

Forget the stop watch, I now had my motivation to run faster. I crossed the street. My new companion followed. I picked it up a notch as I ventured down Powell Road. The dog gained on me.

Not being Carl Lewis, or even Richard Simmons for that matter, the canine caught me with ease. However, my new buddy would not pass me; sometimes even with me and sometimes behind, but never in front. I showed my running mate who was boss as I advanced down Powell and then hung a left on Byhalia Road.

The traffic on this street was a lot more than Powell. My buddy decided at this point to run on my right, in the lane of on-coming traffic. As I ran, I found myself hoping that the random mutt would take off to the left or right, far away from me. The dog had a different idea.

As I started to feel a burn in my lungs and heavy weight made itself at home in my legs, my visitor continued to run, not flinching from the on-coming cars... put yourself in the position of a traveler on Byhalia Road. You see this big headed guy with seemingly brand new running shoes barreling down the street and he does not have the nerve to put his dog on a leash.

You have to swerve to keep from hitting his dog.
What do you do?
Yell at him?
Feel the need to utter the four letter words that you have hidden in your vocabulary?
Show him your longest finger?

If you answer "yes" to any of those questions, you were probably driving down Byhalia around 10:15 PM several weeks ago.

I eventually threw my hands up in the air as I jogged, mouthing the words "it's not my dog!" The people didn't seem to listen as the horns got louder.

White Road did not come soon enough. It was my next left turn, and less populated. My buddy kept with me and as I approached Queen Oak, even less populated, my burden disappeared.

I was so thankful, but why could this have not happened sooner? Why did my acquaintance not bail out on one of the busy streets? The flip-side is that when you venture down a street that is less populated, there are less lights.

I was dragging my tired self, not looking at the time piece on my wrist (to avoid shock and disappointment) and scuffing my nice Adidas kicks when I heard the most alarming noise that runners can encounter: Not one bark, not two, what was probably three (but sounded like a dozen) barks coming from the ditch. In the dark, three dogs bolted out of their hiding place and came running in my direction.

I must refer to them as "Dawgs" in order for you to see the ruggedness of my new visitors. I ran like the wind. Bolting down Queen Oak late at night, I looked like I had stolen something.

Their barks were vicious, but then I heard something that sound like a siren. It was my black buddy, my former burden, dropping whatever garbage adventure that was more interesting than our run. My savior was coming.

Chasing the other dogs back into their ditch with lightening speed, I rejoiced at the gift of man's best friend. Over and over again, I petted my buddy and announced to the world what a good dog this was!

It is amazing how we do the exact same thing with the Lord's Church. Think about how you act when someone starts talking about The Church Christ died for.

If they think you are narrow minded and way too strict, you find yourself throwing your hands up in the air and telling anyone who will listen that you are not like that.

You say things like "that is just the way 'they are' (referring to members of God's Kingdom)."

Just like my buddy that ran with me and got in the way of the "flow," we find ourselves forsaking what we are really about. But when the Church comes to our need and our aid when we are suffering and in need, we rejoice when we have their fellowship.

We find ourselves denying our relation to God's family when some don't like it (or honk horns and tell you to get that dog on a leash!). We love meeting new Brothers and Sisters in Christ and enjoy great fellowship (when the same dog comes to my rescue and comfort!).

Let us make sure that we always strive to defend The Church just as Christ defends us. Don't turn your back on the glorious gathering of God's people. We are saints that are brought together by the blood of Christ. The Church was not an afterthought of God. It is an establishment that we should take pride in and fight for whenever necessary.


Cameron Clark said...

Here's a question meant with the utmost seriousness and respect:

What are you to do when a member or even pastor from your home congregation says something publicly hate-filled or rife with a distinctly political bent that you would classify as un-Christian or reckless?

What would you do after talking to your Brother or Sister?

Donald TAFT Ayers said...

First of all, it's got to be admitted that we all have a "misplaced passion" when it comes to politics vs. our spiritual duties.

We try to convert people all day long from their political sway and don't seem to give a rip about their souls that might need the focus on "conversion."

We have a model in Matthew 18.15-17that would tend to help in matters where we think someone has been hurtful.

If something is said at a local cognregation, I hope that there would be Elders (shepherds) that you could approach about matters of the flock.

If it seemed that nothing was being done and your conscience was violated (Romans 14ish), I'd pray that one could find another gathering of the New Testament Church to worship with.

Note: I say all of these things without knowing the actual comment that is being referenced.

Cameron Clark said...

It's a general question, no specifics.

I'm trying to summarize my question in the context of the article, but I'm having a very hard time doing so.

Another way to ask the question might be, "If a statement is made publicly that encompasses you (as a believer or fellow congregant) do you not have the responsibility to distance yourself from or even rebuke comments in the same public manner?"

Another way to put would be, "How are we supposed to behave when our brethren are running in the oncoming traffic lane?"

Donald TAFT Ayers said...

The beauty of it is that we are all responsible for self.

Just because I worship at the local church doesn't mean that I line up with EVERYTHING that is taught or mentioned from the pulpit.

If that was the case for me:

I would love the Memphis Tigers.
I would think Elvis WAS King.
I would be in love with Paula Dean.
I would use KJV only.
I would have no relationship with the Holy Spirit apart from my Bible.

I say all of that to say that those are things that have been mentioned at the church where I work from time to time in a public manner....but people know I don't hold to all of those positions.

I have talked to people before about them (the important topics). I have to realize that there are going to be nuts out there who think in ways that sometimes defy logic and reason.

Ephesians 5.1 tells me to try and be like the guy who never makes mistakes and never speaks without authority.

The best thing I can do is to try and get those other jokers on a leash...or pray for their souls as the approaching truck isn't showing any signs of breaking.

Cameron Clark said...

There it is. Very nice.

Cat said...

Small world. Byhalia Rd...Powell Rd...White Rd...

I don't know you but I live just a few minutes from you. My husband spends lots of time on stage at the Harrell Theatre.

Nice to "meet" you.

Donald TAFT Ayers said...

You coach high school soccer? Girls?

I ask because we have a young lady at our church who plays in Collierville.

Cat said...

Yes, I coach at a private school in Holly Springs, MS called Marshall Academy. Headed into my 3rd season of coaching with a group of girls who have never played the sport before. Needless to say, it's an adventure, but tons of fun.

Collierville and Germantown soccer is booming these days. I'm thrilled about it and hope the interest will spread on down a little more into Mississippi soon.