Have you noticed some
people do better remaining quiet and simply observing life instead of always feeling
“called” to intervene in the personal business of another person?
I was traveling
with a group into the old Soviet Union a few years before it collapsed. My traveling companions were pastors,
ministry leaders and travel agents who were offering their services for the
teams we would send into Russia. In route we had an overnight
stay in Helsinki, Finland where we would catch an Aeroflot flight
into Moscow the next day.
We had time in
the afternoon to take in some tourist sights so a pastor I had just met suggested
that he and I take a ferry out to one of the islands to visit a museum and
historical site. After spending a few
hours hiking around the island we returned to the dock to await the ferry
ride back to the mainland.
One the dock was a
group of young Finnish men. They were
having a great time that included a day on the island filled with a good deal
of beer drinking. I remember having friends like this when I was a young man.
It seemed familiar and non-threatening. They were loud and boisterous as the
beer released higher levels of conversation volume and the occasional
good-natured pushing and shoving match that young testosterone-driven young men engage in.
The pastor I was
with seemed to have led a sheltered, religious life. He was a good man, but
from spending the day with him I discovered he was upset about so many things
in the world. His confrontational view on life was formed from within the walls
of the church, not in the streets where your opinions get tested and challenged
with more than words.
One of the young
men on the dock was a large muscled young man who could easily be the stunt
double for the movie Thor. He was 6’3” and weighed about 250 pounds. There was
very little fat covering his abundance of muscles. My nervous pastor friend was
concerned the rough housing the men were involved in would lead to someone
getting hurt. He did not realize what he was observing was simply the way some
men relate to each other. He said to me, “I think they are going to hurt each
other.” I said, “No problem. They are just having fun.” A few moments later the pastor said, “I am
going to ask them to stop.” Before I could grab my naïve friend by the arm he
was up and standing in front of Thor putting his hand on Thor’s chest pleading
with him to stop the rough housing.
Thor reached out
and grabbed the pastor by his collar and lifted him up on his tippy toes and
yelled something into the pastor’s face and threw him back on the dock. I wanted to laugh, but held it. When the pastor returned to my side with his face drained of blood, I said, “What were you thinking?”
Today, review what offends
you. Maybe the problem is not the behavior you are seeing. Maybe the greatest danger on the dock of your life is your attitude, not the actions of those you feel led to confront. Ask yourself, “Is it really worth the conflict?” I bet, some of what gets under your skin is considered normal by
those you feel led to confront. I’m not talking about the obvious stuff like
violence and other forms of harmful conduct, but those things you and I are not
familiar with because of our cultural isolation and lack of exposure. I never
saw Jesus jumping in to stop a lot of what took place in His world. One of His
most profound moments was when He knelt down and began to draw something in the
dirt as a cultural conflict swirled around Him.
On the dock that
day, I knew what was happening because I grew up in that world. My insulated
pastor friend could have learned a lot about the culture where he was a guest had
he simply asked someone or took the time to watch before he reacted in
ignorance. To this day I am happy Thor
had enough wisdom to not throw my pastor friend into the cold waters of the
Gulf of Finland. Our ferry ride back to Helsinki was unusually quiet. I am sure my new
friend was rethinking his worldview.