I am a person who likes to interject comedy into conversations. Of course, my family will tell you that all three of my jokes get old really fast (including that one!). Unfortunately, there have been many instances where I didn’t think it through very well and my attempts at humor failed miserably. I have been known to blurt out things while trying to get a laugh that came across as awkward or even offensive. So I suppose I have no right to be upset when one of my children does this to me.
Back in the summer of 1990 or thereabouts when my daughter Kara was about nine, the Norway Avenue congregation had an outing at Beech Fork State Park to welcome our new preacher, Jeff Stevenson, and his family. Having met Jeff that very day, I was on my best manners as I tried to impress him with how upstanding of a Christian husband and father I was. I spent the day speaking my best “Christianese” as I paraded my perfect family in front of him and the rest of our church family.
At some point in the day, a big volleyball game broke out that involved many of the attendees, including Jeff, Kara and myself. I was standing right between Jeff and Kara being my upright, godly self when Kara sashayed over, placed her hands on my midsection and announced (to the entire park, I assume, based on the decibel level), “Wow, Dad, that’s a nice beer belly you’ve got there!”
Imagine how mortified I was! How could my daughter embarrass me like that? A million thoughts raced through my head as I tried to think of a clever comeback that would preserve my facade. Kara had never even seen me drink a beer, so where in the world would she come up with a comment like that? But if I said anything to take up for myself, it would just sound like a lie anyway. What to do, what to do? Then I remembered that my belly actually did originally get fat from drinking beer; it was irrelevant that I had managed to not do it in front of my children. And what about all the other terrible things I had done, both in my children’s presence and not? So all I could do was shrug, sheepishly laugh, and wait for my face to return to its normal color.
There is a lesson in this. We might think we are fooling people, and sometimes maybe we are. But in the end, we will always be exposed for what we truly are, if not in this world then certainly in the next. Let’s strive to not act like the Pharisee about whom Jesus speaks in Luke 18:11, who prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers…” Let’s strive to live our lives in such a way that we don’t feel the need to resort to acting or pretense. Let’s strive to live our lives in a way that sets a good example for the world and is pleasing in God’s sight. In short, let’s strive to be like Jesus.
"…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 1:15).
"And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased' ” (Matthew 3:17).