The Daytona Beach News-Journal recently reported on the Palm Coast (Florida) police who visited the home of a suspected drug dealer. As they approached the entrance, something caught their attention. The “welcome mat” at the front step read, “COME BACK WITH A WARRANT” – hardly the friendliest message they’d ever seen. In fact, the doormat’s harsh words only raised their suspicions.
To them it confirmed that they were on the right trail of a drug dealer. So, taking the doormat’s advice, the police went back to the district attorney and returned with a warrant. Upon searching the home they found plenty of incriminating evidence and took appropriate action. Who but a criminal has such a welcome mat?
It was a sure sign that the only visitors the resident expected were either drug customers or police. To the former group its message is, “Yeah, this is a guy who sells drugs.” To the latter its intended message is, “Don’t bother me unless you’ve got enough evidence for probable cause or a search warrant.” But for any cop the message is a clear, “This guy’s dirty.” When I read this story, this made think me of something I’ve encountered in various psychology and counseling courses. People put out doormats by their words and behavior. But sometimes we misread their messages.
There is a growing school of thought that vilifies kindness and courtesy as though they are pathological. In other words, if a person shows kindness and courtesy, or is a giving person, or apologizes for inconveniencing others, then they must have a psychological issue. “They must have extreme low self-esteem to assume such a ‘doormat personality.’ Or maybe they’re hiding something, or they’re trying to solicit affirmation, or they’re passive-aggressive or manipulative.”
What kind of a screwed-up world do we live in, that showing honor, respect, and courtesy are interpreted as evil? The truth is our “red flags” should go up whenever someone is abusive with their language and behavior. In reality, the jerks of society – those who are completely deficient of kindness, courtesy, thoughtfulness, and respectfulness – are the ones with the real issues. They’re presenting the “COME BACK WITH A WARRANT” welcome mat.
A friend of my wife shared a story of her encounter with a clergyman. This reverend – who was from New Jersey – castigated the woman – who was from Georgia – for apologizing too much. He blurted out to her, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Don’t you see how stupid that sounds?” Maybe this was just a clash of cultures – New Jersey brashness vs. Southern kindness. But since I am also from New Jersey, I’ll make my own assessment. That clergyman was a total jerk. With all his education he should have known she was only showing courtesy and felt bad for using up his time. In this case, he should have been the one coming for counseling as a patient and she should have been the counselor. He was presenting the doormat that read, “COME BACK WITH A WARRANT”– a sure sign that he had underlying issues.
Sometimes, our society reminds me of an insane asylum in which the patients run the institution. Our culture will tend to treat Christian believers as though they are the problem, the deranged ones, and the warped. But do not take offense to it. Jesus Himself was hated by His society. He wasn’t what they wanted. Jesus came humbly into this world – as a little baby cradled in the arms of His mother, Mary. He didn’t perform miracles of judgment on people, but instead healed the sick, cleansed lepers, and raised the dead. He claimed that He was gentle and humble and implored us to learn from Him (Matthew 11:28-30).
Some Christians will cite the story of Jesus cleansing the temple as evidence that Jesus was just as brash and belligerent as they are. But read what happened immediately after Jesus drove out the herds, flocks, and money changers from the temple. The sick and lame entered the temple and Jesus healed them. Jesus was only making room for those who needed Him most (Matthew 21:12-14). But didn’t Jesus make a scourge of cords and use it on the money changers (John 2:15)? A correct interpretation of this passage indicates that Jesus only used this whip on the sheep and oxen, not on the people. “Both the oxen and the sheep” (Greek te … kai – ‘both … and’ is used) is the correct translation of this verse.
True, there are times when we need to cry out against the hypocrisy and corruption of our leaders as Jesus did to the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 23:2-36). But consider that these religious leaders were turning others away from believing in Jesus (Matthew 23:13), and were oppressive and abusive to the most vulnerable members of society (Matthew 23:14). And look at Jesus’ final words in Matthew 23:27-29). Jesus was grieving, not gloating, over Jerusalem’s coming destruction. In the same way, when Jesus gave the “hard news” to the rich young ruler, telling him that his riches were an impediment to his salvation, we are told that Jesus said this in love (Mark 10:21). Yes, even when Jesus judges guilty sinners, He will still love them and grieve over their fate.
Don’t try to fashion Jesus into someone like yourself. Jesus calls us to become like Him. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
Dear Lord Jesus, You were perfect for every situation when You walked the earth and dealt with sinful humanity. To those who needed a stern rebuke, You gave it. But for the vast majority of humanity, You only gave words of healing and performed miracles of mercy. Though other prophets called down fire on people and turned water into blood, You turned water into wine and took the fire of God’s wrath in our place. Instead of putting leprosy and blindness on people, You gave sight to the blind. For this Lord Jesus, I love You, and pray that You will make me more like You and less like this world. Amen.
(Information from: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/warrant-seeking-welcome-mat_n_5ea6fe47c5b6ad9bacf33fd7)