Ernest T. Bass is one of my all-time favorite TV characters. He only appeared in a few episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” He was a first class hillbilly, known for throwing rocks through windows.
One episode was called “The Education of Ernest T. Bass,” in which Ernest T. decided to go back to elementary school, though he was in his 30s, to impress his girlfriend, Romeena. He was in Miss Crump’s class, and he knew nothing about appropriate classroom behavior. One day he refused to wait his turn to speak, and Miss Crump told him he was rude. Said Ernest T. to the 10-year-old seated next to him, “I got a rude. I bet you ain’t never got no rude.”
Have you ever gotten a rude? Back when I was growing up in Dothan, Alabama, there was a man who walked the streets. Every town has a Willie—a man who has some mental illness and aimlessly walks the city streets. Everybody knew his name.
What everybody also knew was that when you passed Willie on the street, if you rolled down your car window and yelled, “Willie, where’s your watch?” then Willie would go berserk. He chased your car. I was in a car with some friends, and we did that to Willie. It was mean and rude. I wasn’t proud of it then, and 40 years later, I’m still not proud of it.
What if we as Christians were to be more courteous and kind? I think it would dramatically affect our witness. Have you ever been tailgated by an 18 wheeler? (Christian road rage?) Cut off by a speeding SUV? (more Christian road rage?) Your response is to shake a fist at them or utter a few choice words (there is not much you can do unless they have a “How’s my Driving?” bumper sticker and a 1-800 number to call). The witness and outreach of Christians suffers much because we behave badly on the road, at the ballpark, out in the community, or in our homes. Our rude behavior negates our best sermons.
Jesus will never disrespect you. Have you ever thought about that? In Revelation 3:20, he says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door, I will come in.” He doesn’t barge in. He doesn’t beat down the door. He doesn’t try to coerce His way into your heart or life. Never. He is not rude.
Paul says (1 Corinthians 13: 5) love is that way: “Love is not rude.” The word rude here means, “shameful” or “disgraceful behavior.”
“Willie, where’s your watch?” Disgraceful. Shameful.
I’ve gotten a few “rudes” in my life that I am not proud of. I’ve got some work to do if I am to follow Jesus and not Ernest T.