1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
Do you see that little phrase here – “or rude”? The very next quality of love that is named after it is “it does not insist on its own way.” I suspect the latter is an elaboration on rudeness.
Abusers and other evil characters are rude. This word means far more than mere failure to observe proper etiquette (although I suspect that many of you could share how being a slob or being gross was a quality of your abuser). Rudeness is not simply limited though to a failure to be polite. It is in fact, an insisting upon having its own way. It is a pressing and pressuring of someone else. It is a violating of proper boundaries. An inappropriate insistence that someone do something or yield to some demand. It is a rank lack of consideration for others.
Let me give you some examples. I tell you, evil people just keep giving me the examples!! I suppose that’s one good thing about them. They provide lots of material for us to write about.
Let’s call this pastor, Barry. Barry has been a pastor for a long time and although he has just an average sized congregation, Barry has a knack for working his way into “position.” Position and office-holding in his denomination. Position in the community in various and highly visible “serving” capacities. Many people turn to Barry for his “wisdom” in a crisis.
But Barry is a narcissist. For all of his religious talk and his expositions upon sound doctrine, Barry is an evil man. A wolf in wool. And one of the ways that his disguise slips at times, if you watch carefully, is his rudeness. He is rude in the sense that Paul is thinking of. Barry insists upon his own way. Barry does this by insisting that his target have a relationship with him. Barry foists himself upon others – upon people who simply want nothing to do with him anymore. “You know, we ought to get together. We haven’t seen each other for a long time. I think my wife and I will just drive on over this weekend and we can have lunch with you.” He doesn’t ask. He totally ignores issues that caused us not to want to have any contact with him. And when he is met with “No, Barry. I don’t want to do that,” what is his response? He keeps pressing and insisting until you have to just come out and say it – “Barry, I want nothing to do with you. Don’t come here. I won’t meet with you.”
Of course, Barry is then highly offended and “hurt.” He just cannot understand, so he says, why we would say such a thing to him. And of course it will be our fault. He will tell others so. “Oh, I tried to reach out to him, but I guess he is just a bitter person.”
And then let me tell you about Paul and Agnes. Perhaps you have met them yourself. Paul and Agnes just “know” that the Lord has called them to a particular ministry, and they just “know” that He is directing them to involve you in it. Let’s say that the “you” here is “me.” They are on a mission to involve me in this thing.
Now of course, the Lord hasn’t really told them anything. Their “ministry” is one that they have created themselves. They are like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day –
Jeremiah 14:14 ESV And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.
So Paul and Agnes contact me (they leave a message) and in very pious sounding language, they excitedly launch out into a description of their “calling.” And they want me to contact them because they want me to be part of it. But I don’t want to be a part of it. God, interestingly, hasn’t “told” me anything about it. But my thoughts on the matter don’t even enter into their thoughts. Paul and Agnes are rude. They are inconsiderate. They are boundary-crossers.
Well, as I said, I don’t return their call. Not to be dissuaded however, a couple of weeks later, they leave another message, this time much longer and in even more pious sounding tones. Don’t I want to be a part of their calling? Please, please, please contact us.
I don’t contact them. I’ve met their kind before.
But does this stop Paul and Agnes from pressing on? Oh no. They step it up. Once again with absolutely no consideration for my obvious message (by not answering their calls) that I am not interested, they foist themselves on me. They send an email and announce that they have been praying about all of this, and specifically about my involvement, and they are now leaving their home and driving down to my area where they pray that the Lord “will open a door for them to meet with me.” They would have come by our church on Sunday, but we are just meeting online right now and they know that. So, “perhaps the Lord will be good and direct you to meet with us Sunday afternoon.”
So here they come! They have already even reserved a motel room nearby.
Now, keep a couple of things in mind. First, no matter what your thoughts are on the covid virus restrictions, the fact is that those restrictions and guidelines exist. Paul and Agnes know it. But they are going to travel down to my area, stay in a motel, and then (God has directed them, you know), they want me, the pastor of a church that isn’t even physically gathering together right now due to the virus) to socialize with them! Furthermore, Sunday afternoons are often the most inconvenient time for me to drive somewhere and meet with people who I don’t even know (or at this point, like!). No matter. Paul and Agnes are on a mission for God (ever seen the Blues Brothers?)
So, it is time to get direct. “I am not going to meet with you. I do not want to be involved in your activities. Please remove me from your list.”
Will they show up Sunday anyway? The chances are high. I know this because I have dealt with their types many times. Their motives are never pure. They always have some selfish agenda. Oh, and when I shared their emails and messages with a few friends, here are some of the responses I received (I have wise friends):
- That is just creepy
- They have some unstated and evil motive
- That is sooo presumptuous to just foist themselves on you
- They probably are coming down to teach you that you are doing church wrong by worshipping online
- And this one I really like – “how obtuse of them.” I had to look up that word even though I think I remember it from geometry. But in regard to people, it means “dull, stupid, slow to take a hint, dense.” And that is just seeing the best case possibility. Worst case and probably the most accurate is, they have a hidden and evil motive.
Such dull people require clear dealing. I’ve seen it and I have done this. “You need to leave now. Here is the door. You are never to come back here or you will be charged with trespassing.” And even then, believe it or not, I have had such people respond with “are you asking me to leave?” Ha! “No, I am ordering you to leave!”
And off they go, so hurt, and ready to “share” with others how sorely and hurtfully they were treated at your hands. You are so mean, you know. They will have to pray for you.
Nehemiah 6:2-4 ESV Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. (3) And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (4) And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner.