What just popped into my mind was a troublesome memory from seventh grade. I was new to my school and was wondering where I fit in with everyone. One day in class, a note was stealthily passed to me. It read something to the effect of: “Tina says she likes you. Do you like her back?”
Well this sort of thing is enough to disassociate any seventh grade boy from his studying. Did I like Tina? Well, not necessarily. She wasn’t exactly my first round draft pick. But now that this note was passed to me, and I was assured that Tina did like me, well, maybe I needed to give that some thought. I remember that I wrote back something positive but non-committal, but I can’t tell you exactly what that was. I was willing to give it a shot, but I wasn’t holding out any guarantees.
Unfortunately, this inquisitive note turned out to be a joke. Tina had no interest in me, but her friends wanted to see how I would squirm when put in this position. I think this is probably what some people have experienced when they have encountered some Christians, some of us. They’ve been given a note that tells them that God cares about them, but after a while, they wonder if that was a big joke. Does God really care? Does He really like me? Should I even dare to write back that I’m interested in Him?
Much later, in high school, I was dating a girl whose name was not Tina. It was early on in the relationship and one day, one of her friends took me aside as the apparent spokesperson of her group of friends. “Jay,” she said, “we can see that she likes you, and we’ve talked about it. We have decided that we like you too.”
Knowing that God orchestrates and redeems all of the things in my life, I often wonder what Gospel lessons He is trying to teach me in the stories of my past. This one is clear. God was showing me what it meant to be His Church.
We are the people who are called to vanquish the fears and misgivings that people have. We are all afraid of something of our lives being a cosmic joke at our expense, and many of us are afraid that this says something about our relationship with God. We, the Church, are called to be God’s friend who goes to those people and says, “We can see that He likes you. We’ve talked about it, and we like you too.” May we be that friend for someone this week, and may God send us someone to be that friend for us.