Beating the system
May 18 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Beating the system | Friday, May 18, 2001

Friday, May 18, 2001

Beating the system

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I first noticed her in Fort Lauderdale, when a bent little lady talked the Midway gate agent into letting her on the plane first because she was old and frail. She then straightened up and strode onto the plane while carrying two bags and pulling another. On the plane, I watched her climb onto the seat and hoist her luggage (one piece more than normally allowed) into the overhead compartment. When the plane landed at the Raleigh-Durham airport, she retrieved her bags and lugged them up the aisle. As she reached the aircraft door and stepped into the jetway, however, she quickly stooped over, as if terribly burdened. A young porter was waiting with a wheelchair, which airports offer when needed as a courtesy to passengers with special needs. She had apparently called ahead to request a chair, claiming decrepitude. "Is this my wheelchair?" she asked.

The porter said yes and tried to assist the woman into the chair, but she waved him off, threw her bags onto the seat, and pushed the wheelchair up the hallway, leaving the befuddled young man with empty hands, wondering what he should do next.

This woman was a master at playing games to beat the system for her own advantage. Not wanting to check her baggage - or to carry it - she feigned feebleness to have a wheelchair delivered so she could use it as a convenient luggage cart!

Something about that just rubs me the wrong way. There may have been someone around who really needed the wheelchair, and the airport certainly had other things for their employee to do.

The scene reminded me of other ways in which we play the game of working the system to our own advantage. We look for every tax loophole we can find, of course, and not all of them entirely kosher. We send our children to public schools, drive on public roadways and utilize municipal services but do our best to avoid paying our fair share for them.

The same mindset finds a home in our churches. Many folks bring their kids to our Sunday Schools, enjoy our worship, and take advantage of every church program without contributing either a day or a dollar to the cause. When I was a pastor, I never wanted to know who the "zero contributors" were, lest I be tempted to think less of them, but my treasurers assured me they were there. It was harder to avoid noticing those who refused to share leadership, teaching or child-care responsibilities.

The ultimate step of "beating the system," I suppose, is the common idea that God is just plumb tickled for us to walk the aisle as a child and pick up an eternal life insurance policy with no further expectation of worship and service.

God is a loving Lord, and the message of scripture is that God clearly wants all people to be saved and to experience life both abundant and eternal.

But the Bible also teaches that God is just. If we think God is not wise enough to know whose heart is true and whose devious mind is just trying to beat the salvation system, we haven't thought long enough.

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5/18/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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