Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

June 30, 2012

Mistaken Identity

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

In a recent family conversation, we recalled a time of mistaken identification.   You hear that as a defence by criminals — but let me assure you that my story has nothing to do with my conduct or my seeking to be someone else.  Enough of disclaimers — on with the story.

Several years ago, we were attending a certain event.  I will not name the event or the institution to protect the innocent(?) !  Just prior to the event we received a special invitation to a brunch the morning of the event.  We felt honored to be invited.  The invitation included all family members that might be in town for the occasion.

The day came.  We left our hotel to insure a timely arrival.  As we entered the venue we were greeted, and upon identifying ourselves, we were given name tags.  Suddenly we were swept away to a special table.  As we looked around, we did not recognize anyone.  And from the dress and persona of those present . . . honestly, we were not sure we belonged.  It was not that the other attendees were snobs or unfriendly.  Actually, it was really the opposite.  It was almost like we were the honored guests!

And the food!  Special grown strawberries almost the size of your fist!  A multitude of delicacies!   The tables and service were what many of us would have described as “fit for a king.”  And we seemed to be the family on the throne!

Small conversation was made among all of us.  And I heard my name repeated often . . . “Mr. Jolly . . . Mr. Jolly.”  I would have thought I was someone important . . . but I knew this was a literate bunch  —  able to read my name tag!  Then somewhere in the midst of this brunch, a young lady representing the institution began a conversation with me.  It was much like an interview.  It was an inquiry to what I did vocationally.  It did not seem to be relevant . . . but I told her I was a Baptist minister.

That confirmed her suspicions.  I was not the Mr. Jolly they had expected.  I was not the great benefactor of this institution.  Somewhere when it was known that Mr. Jolly was attending this event,  it was assumed to be “The Mr, Jolly!”  Big case of mistaken identity!

You can let things play out in your mind.  We were not any longer welcomed.  Oh, they did not make a scene . . . after all they would have ‘egg on their faces.’  The other guests still assumed I was The Mr. Jolly.  The young lady and another from the institution politely said to us that we needed to proceed to another location.  Fortunately it was to other activities related to the schedule of the day . . . and not to the parking lot where they probably believed we had parked our ‘Jed Clampett’ truck —  rocking chair and all!

Mistaken identity can happen!  I was not bothered that it happened — actually it was fun  —  but what did bother me was the way we were treated when we were not the wealthy benefactor family!  (Of course they lost our millions we were ready to donate!)

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated happening.  There are times when people are accepted or rejected because of perceived status.  Just today someone shared an experience they had at a class reunion.  With no reserved tables or assigned seating — open seating — this person sat at a table.  In a few minutes she was approached by one of the classmates who served on the reunion committee.  Our friend was told she could not sit there and that she should move to one of the other tables.  This was not a case of mistaken identity, but another illustration of an attitude some have toward others that do not seem to be important.

As our friend observed, several “important” people were escorted to that “special” table.  I have been around long enough to know that table was made up of “The Mr. Jollys.”  You know . . . those that are assumed to be better than others!  Those who you think can make you feel important or give affirmation to that warped ego that makes you feel you are something special.  Imagine the hurt to our friend . . . incurred because someone treated her as a nobody.  Just remember . . . everybody is somebody!  Every person is so much of a somebody . . . and so important . . . to God, that He gave His Son to die for your sins.  We are somebody important to God!

Behavior of condescension will always occur as a result of human nature.  God had much to say about such attitude and behavior toward others.  We would do well to take note.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.  But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”  (James 2:1-13)

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  (Philippians 2:3)



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