You may have heard the story of a preacher accepting a new call to serve as pastor in a church. Some weeks after she arrived, she had an occasion to ride the city bus. This was when you paid the bus driver directly, and the driver could make change. When she sat down, she discovered that the driver had accidentally given her a quarter too much in change.
As she considered what to do, she thought to herself, "You'd better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it." Then she thought, "Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets so much money; they will never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet."
When her stop came, she paused at the door. Then she handed the quarter to the driver and said, "Here, you gave me too much change."
The driver, with a smile, replied, "Aren't you the new preacher in town? I've been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you at church on Sunday."
When the preacher stepped off of the bus, she literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, "Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter."
Here's God's sense of humor: I had typed this story (source, unknown) in the morning, went to a late morning meeting, then grabbed a quick lunch at a local fast food restaurant. When the server told me the cost, I gave her what I thought would result in a nice round number back in change. What she gave me was more than I anticipated. As I put it in my wallet I thought exactly the same thing as the fictional preacher in the story. I had to laugh. Some stories are just too close to the truth for comfort. I asked about my change, and discovered I had misheard the cost, and the change I received was correct.
Big deal. So what?
For most of us, Christianity isn't about great public displays, or being conspicuous spiritual giants. It's more about who we are when no one's looking. It's about the little moments that, one by one, accummulate into a whole life. The character of our discipleship doesn't usually come from momentous decisions, but from the little decisions and choices we make every day.
I have often thought every Christian should walk around in a clergy shirt and collar at least one day in their lifetime. I know that when I'm wearing it around town, I am very self-conscious since it marks me as not just a pastor but, more importantly, a Christian. People expect integrity, honesty, decency, even a certain hopefulness from the followers of Jesus Christ - not because we have to in order to work our way into heaven, but because we want to since Christ has loved us unconditionally and saved us by his grace. Wearing that collar makes me more keenly aware of how my attitudes, my behavior, my words reflect on this gracious, self-giving God I serve. For many, wearing a cross serves as that kind of reminder.
Mother Teresa put it this way: "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
And Jesus said, "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much." (Luke 16:10, NRSV).
It's an interesting question to reflect upon in those quiet moments when you're alone: Who am I -- when no one's looking?
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