By Curtis K. Shelburne: CNJ columnist
I don’t remember how old I was when the incident I’m about to mention took place. I just remember that I thought I was hungry-so that could cover most of the last 48 years and is not much help. I do think it was early on a Sunday morning, which meant my family and I were getting ready for church-even if on Saturday we had had company (somebody like, say, the President of the United States), a sniffle, a really busy day, a near hit at the house from space junk, a drive-by shooting, or anything less than major surgery.
Nobody’d thought of doing church Wal-Mart style then, so it was not a mega-church with 10 flavors of worship and 394 special groups listed in a catalog the size of a small city’s phone book. It wasn’t a church where nobody noticed much or really cared in anything but a theoretical sense if we were there or not. It was not a church where we could get lost in the crowd and never have to make much effort to do anything. If we weren’t there, we would be missed and some things would go undone.
We went on Sunday nights, too. I used to wonder: if I got hit by a car on a Sunday afternoon at 3, would I still have to go to church at 6 and miss, as always, The Wonderful World of Disney? I was as a child unrepentant about thinking that there was nothing happening on Sunday evenings at church that was anything like as wonderful as what Disney could do on TV in the very same time slot. But my parents didn’t buy my reasoning.
So, if it was a Sunday, and I think it was, I know where we were headed. I’m also pretty sure there was a church dinner that day because Mom was up early and had already been doing some cooking. She’d migrated to another part of the house for a moment when I happened to pass through the kitchen and noticed there on a platter, brown and beautiful, having just recently been baptized in hot oil, some meatballs begging to be snitched, and I answered their call. What I didn’t know, since I knew more about meatball-eating than I knew about meatball-cooking, was that they weren’t done yet. Not even close. No matter how good those meatballs looked on the outside, they still needed some serious oven time in order to be ready on the inside. The inside of the meatball I snitched was completely raw hamburger meat, which I now know can be really bad for you in a number of unpleasant ways.
Christians are called to live lives that, inside and out, reflect the beauty of God’s Son. We are called to live winsome and honest lives so that what people see on the outside is an absolutely authentic expression of what truly exists by Christ’s power on the inside.