I miss the free samples. For as nice as it was to once again wander through the Costco warehouse a few days ago (at a special time, no less, set aside for those of us who are, like some of their cheddars, more mature in life), it just isn’t the same without also being able to migrate between those little tables in the aisles, grazing unashamedly on all kinds of things from chicken to chips, juices to junk food.
For in addition to being free, those sample stations offer the opportunity to try something that you might never on your own be tempted to actually buy. What’s more, though you may feign a little interest in whatever it is you’re sampling, just to be polite—“what an interesting flavor combination; I’ve never had bacon and peanut butter before”— there’s not any real obligation to even like it. And how often do you have that chance in life?
Doesn’t it seem, for instance, that far too frequently our interchanges with others are almost rote and pre-rehearsed, lacking in any real authenticity or honesty? For indeed, long before the coronavirus pandemic arrived, most of us already knew how to politely “distance” ourselves from those around us with whom we might not agree in life. But I wonder if in doing so we may have missed a good opportunity to make a witness for Christ to others.
Writing to one of his young friends in this regard, St. Paul encouraged Titus to show himself “in all respects to be a model of good works,” demonstrating both integrity and dignity in his teaching. (Titus 2.7) And the good apostle similarly admonished the Ephesians to become “imitators of God as beloved children,” walking in love as Christ loved us, “a fragrant offering” to God. (Ephesians 5.1-2).
As those who believe, thus, we’re called to offer enticing samples of what salvation actually looks like to those who may not yet know what God can do in their lives. And that will play itself out in numerous ways—how we drive, how we deal with others, how we tip, how we pray, and even, the look on our faces when things may not go well for us. For if we are crabby and not cheerful, selfish and not focused on others, with the countenance of a mule and not of the Master, our witness will not be a winsome one at all.
What’s more, as this odd moment in our shared lives has worn on, some of the social lubricants such as manners that keep folks from rubbing too harshly against one another have begun to dry out, with tempers starting to flare, abuse cases rising, and self-destructive habits increasing dramatically. Now then would seem to be the ideal time to so walk in love that others are drawn in by the sweet fragrance of faith, just lingering on us.
Or in other words, more grace is exactly what this weary world needs right now, and if we are not the ones to sample it to others, who will?
Did I mention, by the way, that it’s absolutely free?