Friday, April 12, 2024

I once met a unicorn

| January 27, 2022 1:00 AM

In 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7, Paul says: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Have you ever attended a large public meeting that had an open microphone to gather public opinion?

At this meeting, did you know some or all of the people who expressed their opinions openly with the entire group? I’m going to assume that is the case.

Did you know some of their background and beliefs? And when they spoke, did their words confirm what you believe has shaped them? The answer to this is likely yes.

All human beings have been molded by their life experiences, and speak and act based upon them.

There is also a rare breed of person. One might describe them as a “unicorn,” because you need to actually meet such a person to believe one exists.

While such a person has been shaped by past experiences, like the rest of us, they truly seem unique. They display an unusual degree of level-headedness and largely avoid emotional reactivity. They also have a knack of “listening anew” with every encounter, avoiding preconceived judgment.

Even if society were to lift up this person and place them on a pedestal, with elevated status and credentials, they would still treat everyone they meet as equals. Finally, they would have a passion for teaching but wish to avoid becoming an idol.

Over the years, I’ve read about such a rare breed. Then, one day, I saw one in the flesh. He was actually standing right before me. He is what I would refer to as a unique Christian who is an international figure. One of his goals was to be like John the Baptist, to teach, but also to point away from himself and toward Jesus. I have learned much from this man.

I would best describe this encounter like meeting a unicorn, which I believed is only a mythical creature; however, when used metaphorically, also highlights rarely seen gifts in certain human beings.

Now don’t get me wrong. He didn’t claim to be perfect – far from it. He had to work at all the above on a daily basis, stay humble, and avoid being so full of himself that he is of no earthly good to those around him.

One thing he taught me is that I too can become a unicorn, at least from time to time: always a student and never the master.

In those rare moments when I manage to do so, I strive for the common good of society, when it would be far easier to do the opposite. It sometimes just begins with saying the inclusive “we” instead of the selfish “me.”

You can do this at a large public forum, with a few folks, or even one on one.

I know there are moments when you, too, can become a unicorn.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Moses Lake and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.