It was a warm summer evening and the family was gathered at the table out on the deck, eating one of my gourmet two-step dinners. As usual, Frank and I asked the children about their day, in hopes of improving their communication skills and our parenting skills. This verbal exchange has become one of the highlights of my day. No one is expected to provide lengthy discourse when asked what they did that particular day, but the response “nothing” is unacceptable in the Lofaro household. Frank loosened his tied and proceeded.
“Jordan, did you have a good day? What did you do?”
“Nothing.” Jordan’s countenance dropped a mile. My mother-heart went into gear.
I placed my hand over his, which has begun to resemble a bear-cub-paw.
“Jordan, what’s the matter honey?”
I persisted. “What is wrong?”
Frank grew impatient. “Jordan Lofaro, WHAT happened today?”
Paris attempted to offer some assistance. “He’s mad because he got into a big argument at the pool and these kids we know started making fun of him and he almost punched Billy Spencer.”
I was disappointed and quite surprised. Now there are a few boys at the neighborhood pool whom I can envision Jordan socking but not sweet Billy Spencer whose father is the head deacon at a local church. “How could you fight with Billy? I thought you got along well with him!”
Judge Frank assisted in the interrogation. “Jordan answer your mother…immediately!”
The defendant squirmed in his seat. “I didn’t fight. I argued.”
Star witness Paris was happy to add details. “Oh, he argued alright. I was so embarrassed.”
And I was so disappointed. “You ask for more privileges so I drop you off for two hours and this is what happens?”
“Don’t look at me!” bristled big sister Paris. “He’s the one with the problem!”
I grew impatient. “Jordan, for the last time—WHAT problem?”
The defendant took a deep sigh and was ready to come clean. All eyes were on him.
“James wanted to know what church we go to.”
Court clerk Capri perked up. “I know what church we go to! It’s a snack church!”
Judge Frank smiled at her and placed his authoritative right pointer finger upon his lips. “What did you say to James?”
“I told him we go to Grace Covenant Church.”
“And he wanted to know what kind of church it is.”
“And I told him it was Christian. Peter O’Brien started laughing and said that was a stupid answer. I said it was just Christian, nothing else and then they wanted to know if we were Catholic or Protestant and I said neither and they laughed harder and then Billy said I must be a pretty dumb Christian so I grabbed his goggles and threw them in the pool and he told the lifeguard and I got a time-out and that’s all. Can I be excused now?”
Frank and I looked at each other and then we looked at Jordan and in perfectly synchronized timing, we both said, “Absolutely not!”
My adrenaline soared. “Jordan, we call ourselves Christians! We follow Jesus. That’s all you need to explain. When you’re born in Italy—you’re Italian. When you’re born in Mars—you’re Martian. When you’re born in Jesus Christ—you’re Christian!”
“But you and Dad weren’t born Christian. At least you had a religion!”
Star witness Paris became star sympathizer. “He’s right. People always ask me what kind of Christians we are.”
I was mildly flabbergasted. “What kind of Christians? I’ll tell you what kind of Christians! Try capital C! Authentic! Original! First Century! Do you think the early Christians needed additional titles? They didn’t throw Baptists and Methodists and Nazarenes to the lions! They threw Christians to the lions! Do you think it was Catholics and Protestants who followed Jesus from town to town and saw him bodily raised from the dead? His followers were called Christians! Do you think being Pentecostal or Presbyterian will automatically get you into heaven? No way! We’re Christians! We follow Jesus! Christians! Period! Got it?”
Judge Frank saw that I had gotten “a bit” emotional and asked for quiet in the court. “Jordan, there is nothing wrong with titles and denominations but more often then not, these have separated people and caused division and strife. We don’t believe Jesus ever intended for Christians to be splintered the way we are. Scripture says the world will know us by the love we have for one another but I think God is pretty disappointed.”
Jordan was not yet satisfied.
“But Dad, everybody is some type of Christian.”
“Listen buddy. The term “Christian” is used in many ways. Some use the label “Christian” to refer to people who are not Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist. Some say Christians killed people in the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust. The truth is; a genuine Christian loves Jesus and obeys His commandments. Your Mom and I are doing our best to be true Christians. We have no need for any additional classification concerning our faith. You will eventually make your own choice about that.”
That Frank—always so calm and rational. It really bugs me.
“I know Dad. I already made my own choice. You and Mom know I love Jesus.”
“Son, would you prefer to say you are a Judeo-Christian or an Orthodox Christian or something along those lines?”
Jordan looked at Frank and then at his sisters and landed his freshly thawed gaze upon me. “Nope. From now on I’m going to tell people we’re “Over-Excited Christians.”
Judge Frank, Star Witness Paris, Court Clerk Capri, and Defendant Jordan all burst into laughter and I believe it was coming in my direction. It was fine with me. Court was adjourned and we went out for ice cream.
“In essentials, unity. In nonessentials, liberty. In all things, charity.” – Philip Melanchton
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand.” – Jesus