I like to make fun of the Pharisees sometimes. They’re a fairly easy target, always in the background of New Testament stories saying ridiculously unkind things.
I even have a joke I do sometimes from stage about how the Pharisees would have loved the phrase, “Just saying.”
Can’t you see them saying that constantly in the Bible?
“Whoa, Jesus. Healed a guy on the Sabbath! That’s great, I mean he can walk again. It’s against the law though, just saying.”
It’s fun to pick on the Pharisees right up until the moment I become one at the supermarket. This happened the other day when I was in the 10 items or less check out line.
I respect that line. I don’t casually stand in it. If I have 11 items in my basket I either go to a different line or I vote off one item Survivor style. “OK ketchup, why don’t you feel like the bread deserves to be in this line with us? Why should it be sent back home to the bread aisle?”
And last week, when I had but one item in my hands, the lady in front of me had 21. How do I know? Because I counted them. With my crazy fast Pharisee eyesight. I then started to think the following:
1. Maybe she can’t count to ten? Maybe I need to give her the benefit of the doubt?
2. I don’t know. She has a kid with her who is old enough to know how to count to ten and if she was able to put on her own pants and drive a car here, she can probably count to ten.
3. Let’s be honest, the sign doesn’t say, “A x B – 12 to the power of 4 = the number of items you can have in this line.” It says “10 or fewer.” It’s a pretty simple math challenge that even I can figure out. And I’m horrible at math.
4. Maybe she’s really busy and there’s someone at home who has the flu and she needs to get back as soon as possible.
5. Except she’s buying those little Greek yogurt containers that have the blueberry or honey things attached. I love those. They look like they were designed by IKEA.
6. Easy Jon, you’re getting distracted. The point about the yogurt is that no one who is sick or throwing up sends their mom or wife to the store to buy them Greek yogurt.
7. The other checkout lines are pretty short right now. This place is not crowded. This is a showboat move. This lady is the Terrell Owens of the grocery store.
8. She didn’t even do the courtesy, “Oh, you only have one item, you tall blogger, go ahead of me,” move. Do I still live in the south? She should have said that and offered me some grits. Where am I?
9. What am I the grocery store police? Good grief, you could carry around the grace I have most days in a thimble.
10. Is this going to be a post on Stuff Christians Like? Probably. I’m so meta. Or postmodern. Or some word like that.
And then she left.
I asked the two people who were running the cash register if they ever noticed people had more than 10 items in this line. They laughed and said, “All the time, but we have to let them in. That’s our policy.”
Then they said, “But we have more grace than you since Christ died for us.”
OK, they didn’t say that, but I felt like they probably could have.
So the lesson I learned that day in the grocery store is two fold:
1. Next time I want to make fun of the speck in the Pharisees’ eyes I need to remember the grocery store sized plank in my own.
2. Take as many items as you want into the 10 items or fewer line. Nobody is going to stop you. This is thunderdome.
Do you ever catch yourself getting worked up about silly rules like this?