Thursday, July 3, 2008

Are You the Witnesser or the Witnessee?

I was eating lunch at In-N-Out® on a layover in San Francisco. Delicious fries from a freshly cut potato. A burger with a grilled onion on it - I doubt my co-pilot’s going to like that part so much. The polite twenty-something guy who had taken my order was now sweeping up, and he asked me if I would mind telling him what I was reading. It was C.F.W. Walther’s First Presidential Address. (Hey! It’s not as weird as Pastor Wilken’s propensity for surfing church websites in his spare time.)

I explained a little about my choice of reading material. He said he was considering going to seminary. He told me one of the seminaries he was considering, although I can’t remember now which one it was - I hadn’t heard of it. I mentioned he should consider a Lutheran seminary. If we’d had three hours I’m sure I could have convinced him, but his boss might not have appreciated it.

After our short conversation concluded, the gentleman sitting to my left commented that it was good to see another Christian. The guy to my right said that the employees there were a "cut above." He then proceeded to tell me that he was a member of a Lutheran Church in the bay area, and told me about some of the youth ministry he was involved with. Had the employee not asked me his random question, I never would have known I was dining with fellow Christians.

Walking back to the hotel, I knew my lunch trip was a reminder for me that I am supposed to be the "witnesser," not the "witnessee" (or the confessor using Klemet Preus’s way of saying "witness"). There have been other times when someone else made a bold confession of their faith to me, while I meekly replied that I too was a Christian, feeling a bit embarrassed that I wasn’t the one doing the confessing. Of course, in those situations, it didn’t matter, because we were both enlivened by our trust in the One who has set us free, but how many opportunities have I missed because I didn’t strike up a conversation? We are not all evangelists or ministers, but we do have the opportunity to share the Good News in our daily lives through our vocation as called Christians, no matter which restaurant is your preference. As 1 Peter 3:15 says, "but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you."

So the next time you’re waiting for your order, it might not be a bad idea to say "hi" to the person next to you. You never know who you’ll bump into. It could be a fellow Christian, an angel in disguise, or it could be someone starving for more than just a burger and fries.

One hint: The next time you’re at an In-N-Out Burger®, look inside the rim on the bottom of your cup.

1 comment:

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

That is completely cruel...I'm so jonesing for In-n-Out. It's been a year now... :(

When I went to college in Utah, when I started, I had thought that since they are offended by the cross, I wouldn't wear one (they teach that Jesus redeemed us through the shedding of his blood at Gethsemene. He didn't have to die. But on the other side, they still use execution by firing squad because some sins need the spilling of more blood than Jesus's).

But one thing I noticed, walking through Kmart or on campus or something, and someone would walk by wearing a cross. It was such a strong, powerful reassurance that I was not alone, and usually those little reminders were important right at that particular moment.

If even Elijah needed comfort that there were 7000 who had never bent their knees to Ba'al, then it makes sense that we reassure each other as well by our own presence. It's a 3rd Article thing.