Sunday, May 31, 2015

Who's to judge?

My cousin Tommy and I grew up a year, 2.5 miles, and a world apart.  Tommy is a year younger than me, but we spent our childhood playing, going to school, going to church and (sometimes) working together.  Tommy grew up in town and I grew up two and a half miles out in the country.  Our worldview of what makes life fulfilling?  Well, you could tell from our youngest years that we just saw the world differently.

When we got together with Tommy’s family, which was often, choices had to be made about how we would spend our time.  Since I was a year older, I did my best to exert influence on him to play the way I wanted, things like sports or war or cowboys and native americans.*  (* not the name we called it)  I ALWAYS wanted to play something competitive, something that had you fighting to win.  (How did I ever end up as a pastor?)

Tommy?  Well, Tommy was more consistent than me.  Tommy almost always wanted to play “trucks.”  He could spend hours outside, pushing dirt, hauling things and building great construction projects with toy trucks.  Tommy has trucks in most of his gene strands, I think.

One day, when we were young enough to care and old enough to know better, Tommy and I got into an argument.  (Just so you understand, Tommy and I got into more than one argument!)  Tommy’s house was a short block off the main drag in our New Mexico hometown and we often walked up to California Street to buy things from the convenience store or just to hang out.  On this particular day, Tommy and I saw a large truck go by.  We were a bit down his street when it passed and we just caught a glimpse of it.  That glimpse was enough for me, the competitive one, to show off my extreme knowledge in Tommy’s field of expertise: “Look at that Mack!” I said.

“It wasn’t a Mack; it was a GMC,” replied Tommy.

“No, I’m certain it was a Mack!”  I said, wanting my truck-loving cousin to respect my great knowledge (and let me win the argument).  

Tommy knew his trucks and wouldn’t back down.  “Sammy, it wasn’t a Mack; it was a GMC!”  I can still hear the tone in his voice as he proceeded to instruct me on the differences between the trucks.  The argument progressed and was never resolved.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t back down, either.  Tommy was a year younger, remember?

It’s scary, but it has been over a half century since that day.  I don’t get to see Tommy that often, but we pick up our truck argument every time we get together.  Tommy retired recently.  He spent his whole work career repairing semi trucks.  I quit trying to compete in sports and never chose a career fighting bad guys, but Tommy was true to his childhood fascination.

I wanted to tell you this story because we will never know for sure whether that truck was a Mack or a GMC. (For the record, the only reason I included a Mack image here was that it was the first one I could find that fit the bill for this post.)  In retrospect, I’m not even sure which side I argued that day so long ago.  It’s actually possible that Tommy and I have reversed roles several times over the years.  If I were a betting man (I’m not), I would lay money on Tommy’s pick, though.  He was probably right all along; I just wanted to win.  

There is one Person who knows the truth from that 1960s-era day.  He’s the judge who watched as that truck was created.  He presided over the “making” of the driver when that driver was in his mother’s womb.  Before rough ore was forged into steel and shaped into that truck's engine parts and side panels, that one Person knew the day the truck would drive it’s last mile.  He knew every load the vehicle would carry.  He knew every drop of lubricant that would flow through motor and transmission and hydraulic lines.  

And He knew the hearts of two boys: one who was probably right and one who stubbornly refused to back down.  The One who knew is also the only One qualified to judge and we will discover more about Him this weekend at Stone Ridge Church.  I hope you can join us for the next installment of our “Why Bother?” series.  I can tell you that “This Stuff Matters.”  It matters that God alone is qualified to judge the world, including you and me.  Can’t make it to a service?  Catch the podcast!

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