The Trap of Friendliness

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Yesterday afternoon as I was walking in the Pearl District when I was approached by a man from Green Peace. I could tell he wanted to tell me about his cause so I pretended not to see him. It didn’t work and he quickly said, “I only need a minute.” I let him know that I was in a hurry, thinking that this would free me from listening to his pitch. It didn’t work. “I’ll walk with you, if it’s ok” he responded without hesitation. We walked up the street together and he began to tell me about Green Peace. When he said joining required a monthly membership fee, I told him I would check out the website. I walked another half block and another man with a cause asked if I had a minute as he introduced himself to me. I shook his hand, told him my name, and iterated that I was in a hurry. This time I scurried away without my time being taken. As I continued walking a man dressed in his business attire that had witnessed the encounter, and noticed I had stopped to shake hands, looked at me and declared, “You must not come down here too often.” I smiled and told him that I was just trying to be amiable and that the guy from Green Peace down the road had been friendly. He smirked and said, “They’re always friendly.”

The smirk of this businessman told the story far better than his words. His point: The people on the street corners who are promoting their cause are always nice, but rarely care about your schedule, your time, or your life. They smile at you, but rarely demonstrate concern for your welfare. They are more like used car salesman and less like Tom towards Huck in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Huck tells us of this care when he speaks of their shifts keeping watch at night, “I went to sleep, and Jim didn’t call me when it was my turn. He often did that” (Twain 182).

[bra_blockquote align=”]As Christians I think we have fallen into the same trap as these men and women who stand on a street corner promoting their respectable causes. Often times we replace genuine care for people with half-hearted niceties.[/bra_blockquote]As Christians I think we have fallen into the same trap as these men and women who stand on a street corner promoting their respectable causes. Often times we replace genuine care for people with half-hearted niceties. We, perhaps deep down, believe that if we are friendly it may help us further our cause – spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus took a very different approach. He was not always friendly, at least given our modern American standards, but he cared deeply about people. We must follow Jesus in this regard. The world has plenty of friendly people, but few who care about the hurts, struggles, cares, joys, and pains of others. Christians need to move beyond friendly and start genuinely caring about others; genuine care like Jesus demonstrated will separate us from the vast array of other causes that are daily promoted.

The Author
Chad Harms

Chad Harms

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“I cast vision, preach the Bible, and equip people to use their gifts in service to God and the church.”

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