“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
It was a taste of solipsism and a lack of empathy. They came to the door evangelizing for their church. Enthusiasm they did not lack, nor boldness. What they lacked was any sense of what other folks feel they might need. I’m not going to pick on the organization they represented; I might otherwise be inclined to check them out. The problem was they were pushing their message without a hint of reference to any broader human need, only their own. It’s okay to describe with enthusiasm how something did you so much good. It’s not okay to bring that to someone’s door as a sales pitch.
These two people refused to acknowledge any of the visual cues about our lack of interest. They dismissed our verbal cues. Everything was seized upon as an excuse to steer the conversation back to their sales pitch. It was pushy and cult-like.
You get this from a lot of pitchmen. It gets downright awful when you encounter the fanboys of Linux. “You need this, so you better take it or I’ll harass you and nag without mercy!” That’s only if they were honest. Everyone else hates it, but they never seem to notice. No matter what objection you may have, they have an answer, one that inevitably leads to dismissing your real concerns. “I will tell you what you want and you will like it.”
Unfortunately that reflects the very nature of Open Source development. You have a class of social misfits and freaks who can’t be bothered to question whether the personal itch they scratch in software design might have never occurred to us more ordinary folks. They lavish all sorts of coding elegance on something nobody else wants, or do it in a way that irritates the whole world. In the aggregate, some of their stuff is just fine, but even those projects that solicit user feedback tend to filter out the comments. Not just incoherent stuff written by idiots, but they are incapable of understanding just why we are willing to pay big bucks for some office suite. Only in their own eyes is their stuff comparable. Whether they are incapable or simply unwilling makes no difference; they aren’t serving anyone but themselves.
You don’t have to be all touchy-feely sympathetic, but you need to recognize that what you see in the mirror is hardly the standard for humanity. God didn’t select you as the model for what He intended. When you start to recognize the unspeakable horror of sin versus the vast ocean of mercy poured out on your life, you tend to be humble. Without that humility, you cannot enjoy the blessings of service.
I’ve often tried to explain how God uses everyone and everything, but only those who consciously embrace His moral character get to participate in the joy of serving Him by choice. Christians my age may recall the now infamous Mike Warnke. He’s never repented from his deceptions. Did God use him? Absolutely, yes. But Warnke knows almost nothing of God’s divine blessings or he would not be so fixated on recovering his fame and fortune. As Jesus noted wryly, this sort of fellow has only what men give him — “they already have as much reward as they’ll ever see” — and nothing of what God can do to pour out His glory in your soul.
Brace yourself, Brothers and Sisters; this is the age of solipsism. I know you already see it everywhere you go — rude people on cellphones, cops annoying harmless folks, busybodies pushing others around. They are quick to pour out a torrent of wrath on anyone with the temerity to suggest their whim does not reflect divine will. Indeed, they tend to think God had better get with the program.
We need mercy.