The Hardest Place On Earth To Be Like Jesus

I will never smile like this at the dentist

I hate the dentist’s office.

Notice I said I hate the office and not the dentist. My dentist seems very nice. I’m pretty sure she didn’t become a dentist so that she could torture me.

That’s just a guess.

All I know is the dentist’s office is the hardest place on earth for me to be like Jesus. Of course, that’s assuming we could know how he would act since I’m pretty sure he never had to endure a cleaning or a root canal.

For my part, I generally walk into the dentist’s office grumpy and it usually just gets worse from there.

The last time I went to the dentist’s office, the visit was especially frustrating. I got there 15 minutes early and they finally called me in 20 minutes late. I thought I had allotted enough time for some other things I needed to do that morning but the chances of me getting out of the dentist’s office in a timely manner were looking grim right from the start. (There’s always somewhere else I need to be when I’m at the dentist’s office.)

So I’m grumpy. I’m annoyed. And to top it off, when I’m finally brought in, it’s a dental assistant that I haven’t met. It’s always amazing to me how they can ask questions to try and get to know you when it’s impossible to answer:

“Where are you from?”

“Mmmppffh!”

But it never stops them from asking more questions.

And then it happens. The dreaded question that’s going to make me feel guilty for the rest of the week:

“So, what do you do?”

So far I’ve been acting more like Grumpy McGrumperson than like Jesus. I’m still annoyed and I’m acting anti-social so I have two options:

  1. I could hide the fact that I’m a pastor. In her town. We’re probably neighbors.
  2. Or, I answer truthfully and hope to get a mulligan the next time I’m in for a cleaning.

I decide to go ahead and let it out. Maybe she will just think I’ve been abnormally shy this whole time.

I confess, “I’m a pastor.”

She says, “That’s an intriguing line of work. You look so young. I guess it’s a blessing and a curse to look so young.”

I say, “Mmmmppffh”

That’s not what I wanted to say. I wanted to say something along the lines of, “Well, I’m two years away from being able to run for president.” Or, more spiritually, “Well, I’m the same age as Jesus when he launched a movement that has been transforming lives for 2,000 years.”

Seriously, both those thoughts occurred to me but by the time I decided to go with the more spiritual one and finally got an opportunity to spit she was talking about how she vacations in Florida and I’ll probably see someone else when I come back in six months.

I can’t win. The dentist’s office is the kind of place where I have the most trouble being a witness. My behavior certainly doesn’t reflect the joy of the Lord and, even if it did, I never get a chance to share the Gospel between rinses.

Confession time: What’s the hardest place for you to be like Jesus? Got any tips on how to be a light in the darkness that is the dentist’s office? Is it Christian to want some nitrous oxide?

Nathan is the pastor of City Life Church in Ridgewood, NY. He and his family are committed to making and multiplying disciples in the most diverse county in the US. Read more about Nathan here. Visit the City Life Church website here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Kathryn

    For me, it is not a particuler place but a particuler state of mind. I find it hardest to be like Christ when I am stressed out about a loved one, specially one of my children. When I am in a stressful situation I have a habit of running on emotions (the heart) rather then running on facts (the brain). Something I continue to pray for but “I” keep getting in the way of God being able to change this in me.
    Kate

    • Thanks for your honesty Kate. I definitely get what your saying about it being hard sometimes when there is a stressful situation. God is definitely at work in us, though.

  • Ha ha, I know how you feel brother. I appreciate your comment about ‘hating the dentist’s office, and not hating the dentist personally:) That’s how I feel about the church system. While I hate the institutional box the church is put in, I do not hate the church herself. She, not the box she’s in, is beautiful!

    In the same way, the Christ that dwells inside of us is a great witness to Himself, but the flesh that contains this New Man inside of us is not a good witness. I guess this is why the flesh must be ‘reckoned’ as dead, as Paul says.

    Just like the ‘box’ the church is in will never represent the true nature of the church, the flesh will never be a good witness for Christ. They both have to go:)

    • Jamal, thanks for your thoughts. I think you took this post about 5 layers deeper than it was meant to be taken but I appreciate it none-the-less. 😉

      I should say that my post wasn’t about the church, it was simply about the ongoing personal struggle to be an effective witness for Jesus. I didn’t mean for the reality of the dentist and the dentist’s office to become a metaphor for things I love and hate about the church.

      Having said that, again, I appreciate your thoughts and am glad that the post stimulated your thinking to crave purity not just in our personal witness but also in the apologia of the Body. You’re thinking deeply my friend!

  • Oh my heavens this was a spot-on post. My dentist is actually a friend of mine, and I still would rather be drug across broken glass than sit in his chair. He’s never hurt me so I don’t really know why I dread going so much. But I must admit, I don’t witness for Christ while I’m there. My dentist does free work on the mission field a couple of times per year, so he’s covered. But I don’t know about his staff. I should tell them that mmmpphhhh, mmphjuj, mmmhpphhfff. Maybe that will lead them to Christ!

    • Anonymous

      Your reply is hilarious! I’m glad you’re convicted to share with the staff. Perhaps the Spirit will do the same thing he did in Acts 2 when people from various nations heard the apostles speaking in their own languages. Only God can take your “mmmpphhhh, mmphjuj, mmmhpphhfff” and turn it into “Jesus saves!”

  • Alex

    My hardest place is during my Calculus class. I hate the subject, and I have to pay attention or I’ll fail. Not to mention, I don’t know but a few people in there, making it easy to find people to talk to. Not to mention I’m a freshman, and expected to be talkative. I just have to find the time to actually do it.

    • Anonymous

      Alex, hang in there! It can’t be as bad as pulling teeth 😉

  • CJ Godfrey

    On the fun side, Owl City (a Christian artist) has a hilarious song about the dentist.  Listen or read the lyrics for a chuckle..
    http://owlcitymusic.com/albums/view/102  click the “Dental Care” song.