It was about three years ago when I had an interesting situation play out at my local bank. This was during the time that I was going through my many surgeries and was not able to get out of the house much and interact with other people. This particular day I was fortunate enough to have to go to the bank to make a deposit. That may seem funny to most people, but to someone who had been home-bound for a long period, the trip to the bank was something to look forward to.
As I entered the bank I noticed only two tellers working and there was a line of probably around four people. I glanced at my watch and noticed that it was lunchtime so I figured that some of the tellers must be at lunch. After all, don’t they deserve to have a lunch break like everyone else? So I stood in line, patiently waiting for my turn. I was actually enjoying it because I was able to watch the interactions of the different people around me and the interaction between the tellers and the customers. When you have been locked up in a house or a hospital it’s amazing how you start to appreciate things you took for granted before. As I was enjoying watching the interactions another customer come in the door and stood behind me. From that moment forward the whole atmosphere within the bank changed.
This gentleman immediately started complaining about only two tellers open and the fact that there were three people in line. He continued to complain about how people don’t respect other people’s time anymore and how we don’t value one another anymore and give them the respect that they deserve by being attentive to their needs. As he grumbled and mumbled the tellers faces changed, the customers in the bank became very uncomfortable and what was positive interaction became silence and little interaction. It just amazed me how that one person was able to impact everyone within that building within a matter of just a few moments.
I finally turned and looked at him and he stated to me that he was in a hurry and on his way to preach at a funeral and didn’t have time for this. I just looked at him and stated “apparently your time is more valuable than mine, so would you please go in front of me since you are more important than I”. He immediately stepped in front of me and was the next person to step up to the teller. He did not interact with the teller, he did not thank me for letting him go ahead, and he just did his transaction and rushed out the door, grumbling as he went.
As I stepped up to the teller’s window she thanked me for letting him go in front of me. It was apparent that he had upset her with his comments and she just wanted him to leave. I told her that it was no big deal because all we have on this earth is time and if we choose to waste our time on making others miserable then we need to take a long look in the mirror and realize that we are no more important than anyone else on this earth. God created us all equal and we are equal in his eyes. But then she went on to explain to me that this gentleman was a preacher of a local church. For some reason this did not surprise me because I have run into many rude and arrogant preachers in my lifetime. I went on to explain to the teller that we are all held accountable for our actions and on Judgment Day we will have to answer for our actions and in the case of preachers, they are held to a higher level of accountability by God. She went on to discuss that he was always like this and that he demanded attention from the moment he walked in the door. I explained to her that we are all sinners but when we are in a position of leadership, such as a preacher, we must be more aware of our sins and more observant of the impact we have on others.
From that day forward that teller still remembers me and still talks about that day and the preacher. Even though I only go to the bank around once every three months, that day impacted her to the point that she still remembers the small little action I did by letting go in front of me. Since that time I have also found out who the preacher is and where the church is that he pastors at. I have learned that everything within the church is centered on him and everything is done his way. The Bible warns us against false prophets and as we move along in time would become closer and closer to the coming day of the Lord which means our world will become worse with each coming day. In talking to some of the people who are members of the church, I asked them if they ever studied the Scriptures that he taught to ensure they were taught with accuracy. And the reply was “why no! he is the preacher and his word is the word of God”. If we all take this position then we are open to be misled and possibly taken down the wrong path. It is our responsibility as Christians to study our Bible and to learn the word so that when we run across a false prophet we will know it and not be taken in by his smooth words, fancy talking and promises that will never come about. In this particular case, the center of this church was the pastor, not Christ.
I have been involved in several churches that were the same as this church. We must never forget that the pastor may be the leader but he is not the head of the church, that is the job of Christ, our Lord and Savior. We must remember the many warnings within the Bible about false prophets and the fact is these false prophets come from within the church. They are not always the lunatic seen on TV, or the guy holding the sign by the side of the road, or the small church that condemns the military and pickets the funerals of those who have died in service. False prophets will arise from within our own church and they will become teachers among the church and many will follow their shameful ways unless we have studied the word of God, as he has called us to do and know when we are being instructed incorrectly.
As far as the preacher in the bank goes, he is still preaching and I am still praying that God will open his heart so that he may see the impact that he has on people. Unfortunately, once our heart becomes hardened it is only God that can intervene and open it back up to be able to receive the truth once again. So as we go through our daily lives let us not forget that it is our responsibility to study the word of God, to know the word of God, and to be aware of false prophets because they will come from everywhere. The other point that can be made with the story is that of patience and goodwill towards one another. We live in such a hurry up world that we often forget that we all have our own issues, our own demands of the day, and our own stressors of the day. If we were to approach each other with that understanding then the practice of patience is much easier because this person is just like us, a fallen center in need of God’s grace.