July 06, 2011

A Real Christian? - Glynis M. Belec

I sit in the opthamology department of the hospital waiting for my 85 year old Dad to be summoned to the glaucoma testing suite. I look around. People are everywhere. In the city I find that people in general don't share their smiles as much as they do in the small town from whence I hail. The plain, beige walls where the only decor is signage that blurts out Danger, Exit, Reception Area and more, seem sterile and indifferent. The receptionist smiles a serviceable smile and is efficient and detailed in acquiring information. There is no chit-chat or discussion about the weather.

I try. "He was really nice, wasn't he?" I comment, referring to the older gentleman volunteer who pushed Dad's wheelchair to the reception area. "Yes, John is a good volunteer." At least she does acknowledge and share a thought. But in a moment we are sent on our way and down the hall to yet another waiting area.  No more interaction.

I look at the staff as I stand next to my Dad's wheelchair in the second area. For the most part I cannot discern the nursing personnel, the technicians, administrative assistants (is that what they are called now?) or the housekeepers. The doctors wear the same garb as maintenance people. Volunteers share the same smock as the food servers.  The only ones I know for sure are the Tim Horton's waitstaff in their distinct browns.

 I remember how my mother disapproved of this lax in uniform and how she decried the professional standards of dress. Being a tightly trained, British through and through State Registered Nurse, she was used to white uniforms that had to be immaculate, hair up and off the shoulders with nursing caps pinned precisely into position.

A blue floral-clad smocked gal came up to me as I sat in the waiting room with Dad.

"Do you know if there is someone in the room?"

First of all I wondered why she asked me. Maybe because I was writing in my notebook I appeared as a staff member?  Luckily I happened to have noticed a woman enter the room with the technician/nurse/opthamologist a short while ago, I was able to tell her that there was someone behind the closed door. She thanked me and left just as quickly as she arrived. I was none the wiser as to who she was or why would she ask me such a question.

After she left I started to think about how much easier it would be if nurses went back to wearing white; doctors went back to wearing green scrubs; technicians donned white labcoats, and so on. It sure would make life easier for hospital clients, patients and visitors alike.

Then I got to thinking about Christians and what a real Christian looks like. How can people spot a real Christian in this crazy tossed salad we call society? It would be easy if all Christians wore one colour; or had a tattoo on the right cheek; or donned a black hat with a superimposed image of an icthus on the front. But it doesn't work that way.

I always loved this quote from St Francis of Assisi:

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

I'm thinking that's what a real Christian looks like - someone who preaches without speaking. There are no cookie cutter designs so that we all stand out physically. However our love for Christ stands out when we serve Him gladly and without reservation. That, to me, is the sign of a real Christian. 

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,   
Matthew 24; 34-35

 Actions speak louder than words? Much louder? Hmmm...food for thought...

1 comment:

  1. This really got me to thinking. It is definitely not a compliment when, after discovering you're a Christian, they say, "Oh, I didn't know!" or "I never would have guessed."
    (That happened to me once and I never forgot it!)
    I love the Francis Assisi quote, too.


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