I recently came across a very interesting article entitled, “9 things that make you unlikable.” The title caught my attention and it turned out to be one of those websites where you have to click through several pages to get through each of the “9 things.” But I thought the content was actually worth the effort. If you have the time, check out the article and see if you’ve fallen into any of these 9 pitfalls.
As I read through the list, I came to the realization that Christians really should be the most likable people in the world, because the Bible addresses pretty much all of the practices that could potentially make you unlikable. I created a quiz that pairs the 9 traits with Bible verses that are (hopefully) on topic. Take the quiz and see how many you can guess! Feel free to share your scores and comments after you finish.
In a world where love is generally contingent upon our likability profile, it’s pretty amazing to know that God loves us no matter how unlikable we are!
Best wishes for your journey!
Music & IT Director
Manchester, England. The severe famine in South Sudan. Syria. Drug cartels. Gang violence and homelessness. Roughly 10 percent of the population in Pitkin County, Colorado live below the poverty line. Times are beyond tough and as followers of Jesus we have much to do and many actions to take along with surrounding all sources of pain and despair with continual robust prayer.
Yet in the midst of all of this, there are the boundless loving actions people engage in everyday to help out friends, family members, and complete strangers. Indeed life is a complete mixed bag, always has been and will be.
I believe it is essential in the midst of responding to the tough realities that surround us, it is important to keep a sense of humor and not take ourselves too seriously. While humor can be defensive and shield us from pain, it also can be a helpful habit that is not defensive, but rather enables us to continue to respond to the needs around us.
Perhaps for this reason, recently, I have begun to enjoy silly solar powered objects. Like a solar powered Sumo wrestler or a solar powered Einstein. Such objects distract me, lighten my spirit, and foster creative thinking about how to respond to the crises that surround us.
Each of us is unique and therefore what we find funny and humorous will vary between us. That said, I encourage each of us to intentionally seek out and engage humor as a habit of faith. A habit that can energize us to do more each day for those who are hurting. As Mark Twain once said, “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”
These last few days I have been at a preaching conference listening to some of the best preachers in the country. It has been a blessing to be among so many deeply committed and loving Christian colleagues. I must say that I felt a bit sorry for an outstanding Catholic preacher as he followed a powerful charismatic Pentecostal African-American preacher who was on fire.
Yesterday as I sat alone having a quick breakfast, I could not help but overhear the many conversations going on around me. What struck me was how different each conversation was, not only in terms of content, but the feelings expressed. While my intent was not to eavesdrop and although I spent not more than a second or two hearing each one, I realized that there are always conversations going on all around us.
Conversations can be heard in the news, family living rooms, on sidewalks, in reception lines, magazine articles, churches, during sermons, and in echoes from our past, just to name a few places. Which conversations we choose to listen to impacts us dramatically and affects how we feel, what we think, how we act, the decisions we make, and how we plan for the day and the future.
While this may all be obvious, what is perhaps subtle is that if we only attend to conversations that are in alignment with what we think, believe, and feel, our understanding of ourselves, others and even God are likely to become overly limited as time passes.
I believe it is vital for each of us as we follow Jesus, to be willing to listen to conversations that make us uncomfortable, cause us to ask questions, and lead us to the place in which we might just be willing to begin to see things through the eyes of another person whose life experience is dramatically different. When we do so, we are far more likely to respond to others as Jesus would, with empathy, understanding, compassion, and care. And when that happens, each of us is far more likely to spend more time listening than speaking.
I’m writing to give you some fabulous news about the Chapel’s involvement in a wonderful new initiative! “Let’s start at the very beginning” as Julie Andrews would say……
About fifteen months ago, Robert and Charla began attending meetings with leaders of a broad base of valley organizations. (The term “broad-base” means that the membership includes businesses, churches, synagogues, non-profit organizations etc. – representing the full spectrum of our Roaring Fork Valley population.) These leaders gathered to found an organization committed to “creating a safe space to build relationships and trust to working together” on valley-wide social problems. The organization is called the Manaus Valley Project (MVP). It is the brainchild of George Stranahan, a local philanthropist, and Rabbi David Segal. Rabbi Segal has long been a very strong voice for open communication between all people – regardless of race, religion, age or any other seeming “difference”.
A week ago, a team of ten people from the Chapel attended the first Sponsors Assembly for MVP, held at The Orchard church in Carbondale. The entire program was presented in both English and Spanish – something I realized is mandatory down valley. Over two hundred people filled the hall, chatting in multiple languages. After a welcome and opening prayer, nine valley residents told personal stories representative of challenges faced by local families. The high cost of living was prominent – particularly the prohibitive cost of medical care. Immigration issues also plague families often required to spend years apart from loved ones in the path towards citizenship. The critical lack of sufficient expert psychiatric care was underscored. Transportation and domestic violence also came up. It was a heartful! One couldn’t help but be deeply touched by the variety and depth of challenges facing so many.
We then broke out into the groups with which we’d come. Participants were invited to brainstorm how they might engage their own constituents in conversation, particularly in hosting house-meetings to allow us to really hear each other’s stories. From there, we will reconvene in later summer to determine those areas where we might collectively be able to make real and lasting change. Suffice it to say, we cannot wait to begin to hear how this will unfold for us here at Snowmass Chapel and in the greater Roaring Fork Valley.
Each of the fifteen founding sponsors of the MVP has also contributed financially towards the project’s growth. The Chapel contributed $5K. All told, $55K has been invested from the founding sponsors. George Stranahan and the Manaus Fund generously offered to match all donated funds!
In closing, a well-deserved tribute to Rabbi Segal was offered by Father Bert Chilson (St. Stephen’s Church in Glenwood) and Charla. A huge round of applause followed and the meeting adjourned.
If you have an interest in being involved in breaking down cultural barriers and working together to SOLVE PROBLEMS please contact Charla at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, what a breath of fresh air!
A few days ago, as I was driving, I encountered a familiar scene. At a particular intersection early in the morning stood a large group of men, largely from south of the border. They, like so many at other intersections across America, were standing hoping to be picked up for a day of work. A few hours passed and I drove past the intersection again to head home. This time, however, there were only four men standing at the same place where three hours earlier stood several dozen. Presumably, they were hoping to get at least a few hours of work in for the day.
As I drove by, I immediately thought of the parable of the day laborers in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 20. Here Jesus tells a story about a business owner who went out one morning to hire laborers for the day. The man did so early one morning. However, the business owner continued to hire men to work throughout the day who were standing in the marketplace.
At the end of the day, the men who were hired at 5 in the afternoon were paid first. The business owner paid the men a full day’s wage. Immediately the men who started working early in the morning got excited, believing that if the fellows who only worked an hour or so got paid so well, they would be paid much more than a day’s wage. The business owner, however, much to the frustration of many, paid every worker the exact same amount regardless of the time worked.
This story, which on the surface does not appear to be fair, is used by Jesus to illustrate what the Kingdom of God looks like. The Kingdom of God is something Jesus taught as being present here and now, although not fully realized. Said another way, Jesus teaches us that if God had God’s way, things would look quite differently than they do now.
As human beings, we see other people through the lens of differences, what is fair, categories, stereotypes, socio-economics, gender, and what is deserved, etc. Like the day laborers, however, God sees each human being through one lens, the lens of love and forgiveness. We are all the same in God’s eyes and Jesus reminds us in this parable that this is the way we too need to look at people.
For those of us who realize our own imperfections, the message of God’s grace is great news indeed. We need not earn God’s love, rather God invites us to live each day in response to the fact that God’s standard has nothing to do with what is fair, but what is loving. We are all loved, period. And Jesus reminds us to keep this front and center when we encounter people on any intersection, not just those on street corners.