Christians Stealing Stuff

James Emery White tells of being in the Eagle and Child pub in Great Britain, the very establishment where C. S. Lewis and his friends used to meet. One day, as White sat at his favorite table, another stream of tourists came and went, leaving the manager swearing under his breath about those Christians. When White inquired about the problem, the manager told him that this group of tourists had done what so many had done before: stole menus—hundreds of menus costing two pounds each!

When asked why these tourists stole menus and other items from the pub, the owner said that it’s because of Lewis. They come here to see where Lewis, Tolkien and friends met and drank and talked and they leave with some kind of memento. The owner said, “What gets me is that all these people who come in for Lewis are supposed to be Christians, right?” White summarizes: Many wouldn’t dare drink a pint, but they will gladly steal.

This isn’t just about hypocrisy; it’s about tunnel vision. It’s about thinking that God is concerned about our end—not about our process in getting to that end. We have a tendency to ignore the way in which our behavior affects others—as long as we get what we want, accomplish what we need, get to where we want to go—the process is not all that significant.

We are wrong.

We can quote and reference every word Lewis ever wrote, but it means nothing if we see no problem with pilfering something that reminds us of Lewis. On a more personal scale, we may know the truths of the Bible by heart, but if we are disrespectful toward those in authority over us, we’ve missed God’s plan for our lives. We may lead hundreds of people to relationship with Christ, but if our family is afraid of us, we’ve missed God’s design for us. We may preach eloquent sermons, but if we use people for our own ends, we’ve missed God’s creative purpose.

We all struggle with hypocrisy. I do. You do. It’s a significant result of our sinful human nature. The real problem is our willingness to admit our hypocrisy, to admit how often we fall short, to be open to the prompting of the Spirit about our sin. God is concerned about where we end up; God is more concerned with our journey to that end.

Would you “borrow” a memento to remind you of someone who inspires you?