The other day H was pulling into the parking lot at the church where Ali attends pre-school. It was a tight fit, so he tapped his horn to call the attention of a truck driver pulling out. As he drove into the lot, a woman driving out behind the truck said, "That wasn't a very Christian thing to do!"
H, who is not a Christian, asked me later, what did she mean? What she meant was that it wasn't a kind thing to do. There are three interesting assumptions about her comment. The first one is that she assumed he was being unkind. Perhaps in America horns are only used to express anger. To me, and to H, horns are a way of communicating with another driver, either in anger or in attention getting (The light turned green- go, or Watch out! I'm right here.) The second interesting assumption is that Christians have the monopoly on being kind, and we all know that isn't true.
The final assumption was that anyone driving into a church parking lot is a Christian. Sometimes Christians live so in that little world that they forget another world exists. We can see this in the language that gets used and in the assumptions that people make. (Read Kathleen Norris' book Amazing Grace for more about the way we don't think about our language.) I am not putting all Christians in this category- first of all, I don't want to put myself there, and second of all, I've seen too much grace in action through others' lives. But I really appreciate the perception I have through living in a distinctly non Christian world. I didn't make the choice to live this way in rejection of God, but more in rejection of becoming blind to this perspective. And from the almost outside looking in, I see lots of good, but I also see lots of chances for missed grace- for example, trying to follow procedure rather than looking to fill the needs of a person, or assuming that everyone is like us, and missing the wonder of their diversities.