Flying the Friendly SkiesPerhaps it would be a huge benefit to our churches and to the unsaved if we all took a flight attendant course.
Have you ever noticed how most flight attendants are usually cheerful? They're always smiling, greeting you warmly as you board, helping you stow your carry-on luggage, bringing you a pillow if you want to sleep or a blanket if you're cool, serving juice and snacks graciously, listening attentively to concerns, speaking kindly even when passengers are rude, and generally seeming eager and delighted to dote on your every whim. Impressive, isn't it?
Of course, it's a little far fetched to think that every attendant is so radiant by nature, so I have come to the conclusion that it must be the result of training—specialized education that subdues the human tendency to be self-serving. Supposing that to be true, wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if every human being were required to take the "flight attendant" course? Why, we would smile at each other, express concern for one another, listen attentively when others speak, extend courtesies to family as well as friends, be helpful all the time, attempt to outdo each other in acts of kindness, and in general just be nice to each other even when we don't feel like it. Sounds a bit like heaven, doesn't it!
Then my dream-bubble burst. I was on a flight where the on-duty attendants were pleasant as usual, but a group of off-duty attendants were also on board. They were still wearing their uniforms, but their demeanor clearly revealed they had just completed their shift and were on their way home. They grumped at each other, snapped at passengers who mistook them for on-duty attendants, and simply wanted to be left alone.
Granted, they probably had worked long, hard hours aiming to fulfill the whims and fancies of passengers all the while smiling pleasantly. But obviously, they were still human. So much for my theory that the flight attendant course would solve the world's people problems!
Now, I hope you caught the facetiousness in my illustration, and don't think I really believe a flight attendant course would solve the human behavior problem. There isn't a course that can ever do that. Flight attendant training and self-help books may modify our behavior—for awhile, but they could never change our nature. Only our complete surrender to Jesus, inviting Him into our lives, can so change the heart that the behavior is permanently altered. When that happens, it's considered a miracle. But what would happen if at least those of us who call ourselves Christians were to receive this heart-altering, behavior-changing miracle? What would it look like? Would the world be a better place? What would be the result?
In the book Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, Ellen White writes, "If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."
After referencing Matthew 11:29, she continues, "Why do we not live in constant communion with Him, so that in our connection with one another we can speak and act kindly and courteously? Why do we not honor the Lord by manifesting tenderness and love for one another? If we speak and act in harmony with the principles of heaven, unbelievers will be drawn to Christ by their association with us."
Are those numbers only figures of speech, or are they to be taken literally? Suppose they are literal. That would mean a congregation of 20 members that baptizes two candidates per year could expect to baptize 200, or a 300 member congregation which on average baptizes 15 would see 1500 converts. Talk about evangelism explosion or growing God's Kingdom! Last year, members of our denomination in Canada brought about 2,000 people to the church in baptism. Is it possible that if we'd displayed courteousness, graciousness, and tenderheartedness we could actually have seen 200,000 decisions? That number sounds outrageous; even one-tenth of that number seems inconceivable!
Yes, I was facetious about the flight attendant course, but I am serious about the difference our full surrender to Jesus, along with our changed behaviors, could make in influencing others in accepting Jesus as their Savior.
Ken Wiebe is the president of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Originally published in Canadian Adventist Messenger, March 2007.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2008 Christianity.ca.