A family of four entered a local restaurant, ordered lunch, and holding hands, bowed their heads to pray.
Suddenly a woman at a nearby table turned and confronted them. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t need you to shove your God in my face. I have the right to eat without you forcing your religion down my throat.”
The father quietly answered, “We have the right to pray in public.”
Not so, according to the offended woman. “You’re making me really uncomfortable. I don’t believe what you believe, so you probably need to stop.”
As the family continued praying, the woman’s volume escalated. “I’m just in shock. I can’t believe you need to put your values on someone else.”
Other restaurant customers were privy to the dialogue.
Intentionally. After all, this was the television show, What Would You Do? that is hosted by John Quiñones. If you haven’t seen it, you should try to catch an episode.
Argumentative scenes are staged, unbeknownst to the non-actors whose reactions are caught by hidden cameras. The hope is that someone will have the guts to defend the one being mistreated or attacked.
In this case, a bold patron finally spoke up. “I think you need to leave this room or put your fingers in your ears. Why should they pray silently?”
The woman (remember, an actress) refused to be silenced. “They should get out.” The gutsy non-actor refused to quit. “I don’t think so. You need to shut up so they can pray.”
Following the scene, Quiñones entered with his camera crew to interview the intervener as well as those who did nothing.
One who refused to speak up had this to say: “I thought this was escalating and was going to ruin the meal for everybody in this room.” (Good excuse to say nothing, right?)
Switch to the next scene.
Same actors, but this time in a different restaurant where another couple joined the praying family.
When the verbal assaults started, an observing family got up to leave.
The actress-woman, spewing her anti-prayer-in-public comments, addressed the exiting group: “Thanks for agreeing with me.”
She was not prepared for the father’s comment.
“We are leaving because of you.”
What would you have done?
1 Thessalonians 5:14 is a passage of Scripture that tells us to “…encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
Put yourself in that restaurant. Would you defend the one being bullied, or would you, like the majority of the patrons in the examples above, say nothing?
I can tell you what I would do, and remaining silent would not be one of the options.
I’m just not sure my defense of the ones praying would be being “patient with them all” (“all” meaning the one criticizing the pray-ers).
So, Christians, let’s put the shoe on the other foot.
What if you were in a restaurant and the people at the table next to you prayed aloud to Allah or even Satan?
Would you react unlovingly and spew venomous assaults?
Would you walk out, feeling that your religious beliefs had been maligned, informing the manager that you would never cross the doorway of that restaurant again?
Or would you back those praying against others who might vocalize their displeasure?
It’s easy to defend those with whom you agree, but when they go against your beliefs? What would you do?