you need Jesus!
A friend of mine told me this story, quoted verbatim below, which he witnessed first hand at a family gathering. It was a conversation between an elderly aunt and her nephew, who is gay and out of the closet to the family (but apparently not to her).
Aunt Bernice: You’re getting older, aren’t you ready to settle down and get married?
Nephew (in annoyed and firm voice): Aunt Bernice, I’m gay!
Aunt Bernice: You need Jesus!!!
End of conversation. Dramatic silence fills the room while laughter is stifled…
Though this is an extreme example, I think the same dynamic affects a lot of conversations. It is not hard for me to imagine a response like that (though maybe not so blunt) to any number of expressed or perceived problems. This is not necessarily evangelizing on the Christian’s part, it could be said with the same conviction to another Christian.
One problem is the person dispensing the advice (“You need Jesus”) is assuming they have the right answer for the other person. Would it sound differently if it were, “You need Buddha/acupuncture/Prozac/gummi bears/a smack upside the head!”? Do you really know what someone else needs?
I wrote this post on a bad day (a while back). I had lost sleep the night before, was stressed about work, got angry with one of my children, and had frozen pizza for dinner. Basically, one of those days when I had a feeling deep down inside saying, “You shouldn’t have done that.” It was a day when I did not want to be told I needed Jesus.
When I feel really bad, I usually want a little compassion, I think that is true for everyone. Sure, there are times when we need a kick in the seat of the pants to get over a bad attitude. And there can be a danger of enabling bad attitudes by offering unqualified affirmation. But sometimes, maybe a bad day is just a bad day. And we don’t need Aunt Bernice to tell us otherwise.
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