We always told our girls, “Give it your best effort.” Our hope was to encourage them to work hard in school or on the playing field of whatever sport they chose to play. We could tell whether or no they were trifling with school or sport. You know trifling. As in the firm response, “I am not a man or woman to be trifled with.” In other words if you are going to play, then play. Don’t play, play.
The late James Wm McClendon Jr.’s Ethics, volume 1 in his systematic theology, continues to hold my rapt attention. Working toward an explanation of “principalities and powers,” McClendon sets off on his agenda by utilizing Suits reference to games and game playing. It is a playful section but one that reminds us that the games people play are sometimes played with a solid effort in terms of social habits and sometimes they are not. Those who do not give a solid effort are trifling.
I happened to be reading this section at the same time I was thinking through the Luke 7 passage from this weeks Revised Common Lectionary readings. It seemed to me appropriate to ask if Simon was trifling with Jesus. Was he giving a solid effort at understanding, engaging, and offering respect to a figure garnering quite a bit of attention away from his own religious band, the Pharisees. Many will read and assert with a resounding, “Yes, Simon is trifling.” The quick response may well indict you, dear reader. For when we talk about our own living out the way of Jesus, what kind of effort have we put forth? Are we, like Simon, trifling?
Many have turned away from the Christian faith as they witness trifling by those exclaiming absolute certitude of the Way of Jesus. Tempted we are to find some way to dispose of our social and public responsibility to live out the Way of Jesus we become defensive and judgmental about those who have left the fold. What if, there is some truth to it all? What if “Leavers” leave prompted by our trifling. It would seem we should bear down and give a more solid effort to our embodying the Way of Jesus.