by Travis Pickell
This morning I was sitting at a local coffee shop reading some Schleiermacher (a little light reading, ya know?) when a friend walked in. He sat down with me and I gladly put the book down to enjoy some good conversation. While we were talking, I couldn’t help noticing a middle-aged woman with an intrigued look on her face listening in on our conversation. As I looked up and made eye-contact with her, she began to talk to us. The conversation -if you can call it that- went something like this…
Her: “It’s so great to see young men with Bibles in a coffee shop” (she smiled as she gestured toward my book)
Me: “Oh thanks. That’s not a Bible though (far from it, I thought). I do have one in my backpack though!”
Her: “You know. I’ll tell you what. The world is just so crazy. I was just thinking about, in Revelations, where it talks about the plagues…”
Me: (oh gosh, where is she going with this?… I wonder if she knows the book is called Revelation?)
Her: “… and I’ll tell ya, those plagues are man-made. And that swine-flu… I’ve been doing alot of research, and I just heard more this very morning, about what they are putting in the vaccination…”
Kyle and I are speechless. We look at each other. I just barely keep myself from laughing.
Her: “…not only aluminum but deadly chemicals. It just… I’m ready to go out and buy some land at a higher elevation and stay away from the hurt and the destruction that is coming. It is going to be bad. Alot of pain and suffering… oh well. You all make sure that you stay away, and keep your kids away from that swine-flu vaccine as long as you can, ok?”
Me: “Oh definitely. Thanks for chatting. Have a nice day.” (OMG, what the heck was that about?)
I have been thinking about this incident all day long. It was just so weird. No wonder people think that Christians are crazy. What would possess someone to talk to two total strangers about something so ridiculous. Did she assume, because we were Christians, that we would instantly share her fears about the imminent end of the world; that we, too, would be about one more deadly outbreak away from moving to a shelter in the Appalachians? As I looked at her children listening to their mother speak, I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of picture of Christianity they would grow up with? How would that version of Christianity stack up with competing world-views and philosophies which focus less on apocalyptic conspiracy theories than on loving people and promoting peace? Would they even be able to envision Jesus as someone who lived, died and was resurrected for the world; not so people could be saved from the world, but so that they could then love others in the world in a radical way?
When I told Sarah about this, she had the word that I should have had for the crazy conspiracy coffee-shop lady. Does she not know that “God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim 1:7)? I wish I would have had the wherewithal to speak the truth in love to this lady, but I didn’t… I was completely shell-shocked. Until the next time I see her I will just have to pray for her… and her kids.