Sunday, March 16, 2014

Whose Cookies Are They?

This morning, preparing my Sunday sermon for church, I re-read an article in my files that I gathered years ago. We've used this article to talk about the love and humility we should have for one another in the church.

We Christians, unfortunately, tend to be more often known for our judgmentalism, criticism, and hypocrisy than our love and forgiveness, despite the fact that our leader, Jesus Himself, told us in John 13:35, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

I don't know where this article originally appeared, but rather than offer a poor summary of it, I thought I'd post it here in its entirety:

Whose Cookies Are They? by Chip Grange

Taking advantage of an hour layover at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, my friend bought four hot-out-of-the-oven Mrs. Field's cookies. He set the familiar red and white bag on a seat in a non-smoking area together with his coat and carry-on luggage while he went to buy a newspaper.
As he describes it, he returned to find a rather sloppily dressed, long-haired student type sitting temptingly close to his cookies. He sat down on the right with the cookie bag in between them while he opened to the sports page.
When he reached for a cookie, the student smiled at him. My friend had the fleeting thought that he should offer him one. He quickly dismissed it.
But to his shock, without asking permission or even saying a word, the student reached in and also took a cookie. My friend was so overcome with the rudeness and audacity of it all that he couldn't even speak. Instead, he shot a glance at the student that shouted, “Hands off my cookies!”
Confident that the nonverbal communication had its intended effect, my friend went back to the sports page, but this time reached for the third cookie with great territorial deliberateness. Again, the student returned his glare with a smile, and incredibly, without a syllable, reached for the last cookie.
This time my friend delivered a full-faced glare that said, “You are dead meat if you eat my last cookie.” It was only half successful. The student, still without a word, broke the cookie in half, handing the last half to his silent companion in this most memorable afternoon snack.
My friend reported that his stomach was such a roller coaster of disbelief and anger that this last half of a normally mouth-watering delicacy tasted like gravel. He sat there sorting through a jumble of emotions and thoughts, wondering whether to rebuke his uninvited snack-time guest or call the police. But before he could decide, the student responded to a boarding announcement, smiled, and left with a cheery, “Have a good day!”
My friend spent the remainder of his layover stewing and fuming over what the next generation was coming to. Gradually, though, he realized he was allowing the loss of one and a half cookies not only to ruin his appetite and interest in the sports page but also the remainder of his afternoon. He was just trying to see whether he had it in him to forgive the brashness of youth when his boarding call came.
As he grabbed his coat, his body froze. Like an electric shock, the awful reality of what had transpired struck him. For there under his coat – uneaten and untouched – was his bag of four Mrs. Field's cookies.
Suddenly, by an amazing metamorphosis that only a jarring change of perspective can bring, the villain became the hero. That brazen, ill-mannered student transformed into a spiritual giant. What my friend had mistaken for the deceptive smile of the cookie monster, he now recognized as the gracious acceptance of one willing to share even his last cookie with a hostile, thankless stranger.
My friend experienced a new way to ask a very important old question: “Whose cookies are they?” He learned by deep embarrassment that the right answer to this question makes all the difference.

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