I read one time about an incident that occurred in a restaurant. I want you to visualize a man at a buffet style establishment. He is standing at the salad bar. Do have that picture?
Now picture him covered in Thousand Island Dressing. It is running from his hair, over his glasses, down his face, all over his jacket, pants, and shoes. We are not just talking about a little salad dressing here. We are talking 2 gallons of Thousand Island Dressing, covering this man from head to toe. You see, a server carrying a 2-gallon container of Thousand Island dressing for the salad bar had paused for just a second while coming through the swinging doors of the kitchen. In that instant, the doors had caught her and knocked her forward, launching the salad dressing all over this fellow.
The man went berserk. He began shouting and cursing at her and telling her how stupid she was. He told her he had on a brand new suit that cost $500. Then his wife chimed, berating her for ruining her husband’s $500 suit. The man literally screamed at the poor waitress, demanding to see the manager.
The manager came out, saw this man with salad dressing dripping from his entire body, and asked, “Is there a problem?” The man replied, “She has just ruined my $500 suit! It’s brand new! I want a new suit!” The manager offered to have the suit cleaned, but the man became more belligerent in his demand. To avoid making an even bigger scene, the manager went into his office and wrote the man a check for $500. Still fuming, the angry customers left.
Here, as Paul Harvey would have said, is the rest of the story: it took place at noon on a Sunday.
Why do you suppose would someone be wearing a brand new suit on a Sunday? Do you think they had been to church? Do you reckon they had just heard a sermon on love? Or perhaps they had heard a sermon on the golden rule.
I don’t want to be a judge about how people should act; it would certainly be more than a little upsetting to be marinated in Thousand Island. And I recognize that all of us fall short at times in our interactions with others. But the tragedy is that God has called us to be transformed: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… (Romans 12:1-2a). We might expect the rest of the world to behave crudely. But Christians should not. We are not to be like the world.
Unfortunately, there are many Christians who are living life without the joy that should accompany being in Christ. I read a statement once by the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. At one point in his life, Justice Holmes explained his choice of a career by saying, “I might have entered the ministry if certain ministers I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.” There was no joy in their religion.
Joy comes from having a confident trust and faith in God. Faith dispels attitudes that prevent joy from occurring: worry, doubt, fear. Joy also comes as a result of obedience. Remember in Acts 8,when the Ethiopian nobleman had obeyed the gospel, we are told he went on his way rejoicing. Joy comes into our liveswhen we realize that through the blood of Christ and obedience to his commands we have been cleansed and forgiven. Joy comes, too, from Christian fellowship and Christian service. Make no mistake about it, there is joy in spending time with other Christians and there is joy in serving the Lord. If we do not feel that, we are missing a key part of the abundant life Jesus came to impart to us (John 10:10).
The joy of the Lord is available to us. Let’s all endeavor to exhibit it in our everyday lives so that others might see Jesus living in us. When we have the joy of the Lord in our lives, when we put our trust in him and submit to his will, then the love of God will be reflected in everything we say and do. Even if we are covered in salad dressing.