Sunday Post 136: Sitting on the Sidelines

I know some nonChristians who act more Christian than some of the Christians I know.  That’s why I’m not as quick to throw a stone.  I’m afraid it might end up being less stone and more boomerang.

In our Sunday School class we’ve been studying Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He was a Lutheran Pastor in Nazi Germany.  He was anti-Nazi and was involved in plans to assassinate Hitler.  He was arrested by the Gestapo and hung 23 days before the Germany surrender.

Now that dude stood up for what he believed.

Our minister recently spoke about Christians sitting on the sidelines, attending church on Sundays and then going about their regular business Monday through Saturday.

If someone asks me if I’m a Christian, I say “Yes.”  I guess there are times the only way you’d know is to make that formal inquiry.  Pathetic.

I used to go visit our former pastor, Al Edwards.  He was in his late 80’s when I began dropping by his house for hour-long afternoon chats.  I loved to ask him about a story I’d heard about him.

I was told that in the 60’s one of our church members owned a movie theater in downtown Raleigh.  That member decided to integrate, allowing Blacks into his theater with Whites.  How ridiculous that sounds today, but 50 years ago, that was a huge step for a White business owner in the south.

The Sunday after the man announced his new integration policy, Dr. Edwards asked our congregation, knowing the movie owner was facing extreme criticism for his decision, to call the man and tell him they supported him – that they were behind what he was doing.

The next Sunday, at the beginning of the service, he asked his congregation to raise their hand if they had actually called the theater owner as he had instructed the week before.  Only a couple of hands went up.

Al then said, “There’s no need for me to preach to you, you’re not going to do what I tell you.”  He turned to the organist and said, in his Scottish brogue, “Norman, play the benediction.  I’m done here,” and he walked out of the church.

Can you imagine having the guts to do that?  He told me he almost lost his job!

I wonder if I would have made the call to the theater owner that week if I had been charged by my pastor to do so.  I betcha most anything, I wouldn’t have been able to raise my hand.

I believe in a lot of stuff.  I have strong opinions about what’s right and what’s wrong.  My political convictions are strong too.  But… I’m busy.  Got a lot on me you see.  Not really my business.  Sometimes I just forget.

Or maybe that’s the part of the boomerang I know will come back at me.  Why did I sit on the sidelines?  Why didn’t I do something?  Anything?

What example am I showing my girls?  Not a very good one I fear.

Perhaps I’ll do something next week.

Purchase Danny’s book:  Laughter, Tears and Braids

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  1. Mel Ham

     /  September 22, 2013

    Amen! I say to myself and others if they are around. Let’s be careful. Judgement…deciding who has a fiery destiny will come back to you ten fold.Is there something that we that judge those that judge actually contributed to the fall of the ones we lay the judgement on. I always feel like I have to state that I can tell the difference from right and wrong when I say that. In the last ten years I have come to realize that people can fit into boxes. There is no clean way to categorize people. They are who they are. God made us that way. It gives us salt. If we sit back not and not judge we may learn something and have our eyes open like never before.

  2. Mel Ham

     /  September 22, 2013

    People CANT fit into boxes. CAN’T..I mean that.

  3. Very well written. I think of this all the time, being busy is not an excuse to sit on the sidelines and not proclaim our faith. But, it does happen all to often – I know I am guilty of this myself. Love your point at the end, we need to rise above and set a good example for our children. Thanks for the encouraging post this morning!

  4. Ac Snow

     /  September 22, 2013

    Bruce (Danny), I was there that Sunday. He had told us the previous Sunday to call Bill Enloe and express our opinion, either way, on his decision to integrate I used to have coffee with Enloe, Paul Hoover, sometimes Al also, at Walgreen’s where the sit-ins occurred while I was covering my city beat as a reporter on The Raleigh Times. Blacks were first admitted only to the theater’s balcony and later were able to move downstairs..Can you believe we lived as “Christians” in such a culture? Al Edwards was a rarity. Enjoy your


    • Danny Tanner

       /  September 25, 2013

      How interesting. It has to be fascinating to look back and see the changes that have been made.

  5. I love how you mentioned setting an example for our children. They learn from what they see their parents doing. If their parents have faith, they too will have faith. If their parents take heed to the words of the preacher (who is God’s messenger), then they will also. We are examples in everything. Also, it is quite disappointing when people have to ask if someone is a Christian. Christianity is a way of life and should radiate from a person in their speech, actions and the love they have for others. However, it is much easier to sit on the sidelines than to get involved. But, like the frogs who Pharaoh asked for God to take away tomorrow – why should we have to wait until tomorrow (or next week) to get off the sidelines? We can do it today. I love this post!

  6. That was deep. Thanks for sharing. I think a lot of times people judge others so they don’t have to deal with their own sin. It’s sad, but true. If we took more time to deal with ourselves and being the best we can be, we wouldn’t have time to focus on others. Again, thanks for this thought provoking message.

  7. Love that story! What courage! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks for reminding us that we need to get off the sidelines. Often times I find myself regretting that I did not do something after the fact. It’s never too late to overcome fear, make a change and participate in life.

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