I was riding the train recently on my way home from work and engaged in one of my favorite past-times – listening in on the conversations going on all around me. Unlike nearly everyone else in today’s technologically advanced age, I do not have an iPod or any other kind of listening device to encourage me to mind my own business. It’s frightfully inconvenient to become so enthralled in the conversations of others, especially when you only get a part of the conversation. Honestly, I want to hear what happened to Nici’s uncle’s aunt’s nephew who somehow managed to become entangled in the doggy door at a neighbor’s home after being told explicitly not to go over there. I’m really entertained by conversations with personal bankers on the subject of one’s bank account balance, or lack thereof. Yes, I know I should mind my own business, but, when stuck in a public place with nothing to do but listen in, heck, one might as well do it whole-heartedly.
Which brings me back to my recent train ride and the conversation etched indelibly in my mind. NeNe (I’m not making this up) was having a conversation with her friend Sha seated next me. By the way, that is the correct spelling of Sha’s name because it was beautifully written on her backpack…in 12 different places. As NeNe’s kid proceeded to crawl over me, step on my shoes and in general cause havoc, NeNe carried on a remarkably animated story about Mercedes number 1 and Mercedes number 2 and a fight that happened over the weekend at Universal City Walk. Sha was miffed at Mercedes number 1 and was on her way to “kick her ass” when she ran into NeNe on the train. NeNe was in absolute agreement that Mercedes number 1 deserved whatever “ass-kicking” was coming to her. As they were getting off the train, NeNe said,
both those @#$%^& ain’t nuthin’ more than big woofers, if they weren’t always out there big woofin’…
And with that, they exited stage right and I was forced to play out the unfinished conversation in my head as best I could.
Since then, I’ve thought a lot about what NeNe and Sha meant by “big woofers” and it dawned on me that they were talking about people who bark loud…always picking fights. They are rather like my neighbors dog that is constantly causing a commotion and great annoyance with all his “woof, woofs.” My dad would probably call these people “rabble rousers”…people that are constantly stirring the pot, most often with the intent of getting a reaction or a rise out of people.
The world is full of big woofers. We hear them on talk radio screeching about the Godless Left or braying about the Religious Right. They say things that are designed to create annoyance and fear and often result in pain or hurt feelings; mostly they are designed to get a reaction. These big woofers all share the same trait when it comes to being called on the carpet for their big woofin’ – they blame it on the behavior of others and then respond in kind. It’s like a nasty, low-down, knock-down-drag-out dance that crosses religious, political, ethnic and cultural lines.
Big woofers are everywhere but I’m amazed at the emergence of this element within Christendom. It is kind of shocking to me that people who call themselves followers of Christ, are resorting to decidedly un-Christlike behavior and then blaming it on everyone else. I doubt there is one of us who have not heard of Gandhi but I bet that most of us don’t know that he almost made a decision of faith. He studied the life of Christ and was impressed by this God-Man, but, Gandhi had the unfortunate experience of running into Christians who did not practice the love of Christ. He was completely turned off and years later made the following statement:
I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Recently I was reading the book of Matthew and came across this passage in chapter 5 –
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
A Big Woofer it seems, at least in Christian circles, appear more interested in being right than in being a light that points the way to Christ. I wonder at times how Christ must feel about the big woofin’ that goes on. Are our actions serving to turn people off to Christ, instead of compelling them to get a lock in on His life-changing power? If that’s the result of our big woofin’ then what good are we? If we aren’t committed to living for Him in such a way that the Gospel is made beautiful by our lives, then I’m afraid we are destined to be nothing more than big woofers. All annoying and frightening bark and nothing more!