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Friday, February 3, 2012

The Appearance Of Evil?


A few years ago, when I worked for a Christian missions organization, I got into trouble for carpooling. Well, not so much for carpooling, but carpooling with a female. This is what happened.

Three of us who worked together and lived in the same area decided to start to carpool—two male and one female. It was good for the environment and even better for our pocketbooks. All went well till the day my other male carpool buddy had to run an errand after work and needed to drive his own car. We never thought anything of it; as usual, I picked up my female co-worker and drove to the office.

As we entered the parking lot, another co-worker was just entering the building and saw us pull into my parking spot. Within a few minutes, I was reported to the boss for carpooling with a female, and was called into his office.

I was basically told that carpooling with a female had the appearance of evil, and I shouldn’t do it. Although I should have been flattered that my boss thought so highly of my multitasking abilities—being able to maneuver L.A. freeways while driving and, at the same time, performing whatever else it was that they thought I was doing—I was deeply offended and felt dishonored. In any case, I refused to obey, and continued to carpool with and without the third party.

What infuriated me even more was what took place a couple of weeks later when I approached my boss on the same subject.

“Don’t worry about it. We just found out that our president has been carpooling with his secretary for the last 20 years. So, you can now continue to carpool with a female in your car,” he said so nonchalantly.

Talk about being frustrated and angry! When I did it, it had the appearance of evil; but when the president did it, not only it was righteous, but also it became a moral and spiritual precedent for the rest of us peons. And all this time I’d thought Jesus was my moral guide. It wasn’t long after that the president, my moral compass, had to resign because of some financial irregularities.

What is this “appearance of evil” that we should avoid? Who decides that?

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I’m flying back to Burbank from Springfield, Ore., and have a two-hour layover in San Francisco. It’s Monday night, and a Monday Night Football game is on. My favorite team is playing against the Steelers—any team that plays against the Steelers is my favorite team. I decide to sit at a bar, order a hamburger and, while eating my dinner, I watch the game.

I notice my phone is dying, so I ask the bartender if I could plug in my charger anywhere. He places a power strip on the bar in front me and tells me to help myself. That’s when a very pretty young lady who was sitting behind me moves over and sits right next to me.

“My computer is dying. Do you mind if I share the power strip with you?” she asks.

I’m very used to this. Almost always female strangers start conversing with me without any hesitations. This has nothing to do with my charming personality, but a gift the Lord has given me. People, especially women, find me trustworthy, a man with no agenda, who cares.

We spend the next half an hour talking. She tells me she’s waiting for her friend to join her, so they can go paint the town together. As I’m talking to this young, beautiful lady, I’m so grateful that I no longer work for that missions organization, which would have frowned upon seeing one of their top men talking to a strange young woman in a bar. OMG, talk about the appearance of evil.

As I get up to leave, I’m impressed to do something.

“Do you like to read?” I ask her.

She says, “I love to read.”

“I’d like to give you a gift. It’s my new book.”

“I love it. Thank you!”

I autograph my book, hand it to her, and say goodbye.

On occasions, I’ve given my book to strangers, but have never heard from any of them until the above young lady. For almost a month I’ve been thinking and praying for June (not her real name) when I get a long email from her. This is how she starts it:

“It was a real pleasure meeting you that day, and after reading
(devouring?) your book I only wish I had spoken with you more! Your
book really resonated with me. It was written in such a way that I
felt a close connection with you; the way you wrote about your
experiences was like a friend sitting next to me telling these
stories. It gives me hope in my struggles as a young woman.”

Even if I were still working for my old employer, I’d have still risked being accused of “giving the appearance of evil” to experience the above interaction. But, thank God, I don’t. I wonder what Jesus would have done?
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