“How was everything?” asked the waiter as we finished our staff luncheon at a new restaurant in town. “Fine,” was the standard reply from those who managed to get any words out. The others, not wanting to say what they really thought of the dining experience, filed out the door quietly.
We had come to celebrate the calling of a new Student Pastor for our church. Having heard good things about this new Mexican restaurant that offered a luncheon buffet (too great a temptation for Baptists), we called ahead to make reservations. As the waiter escorted us to our table, we passed by the “buffet.” I put that in quotes because I’m not sure that what I saw that day could be considered a buffet in any meaningful sense of the word.
After determining that there was nothing on the menu that appealed to me, I resigned myself to the fact that I would pay $9.99 for the opportunity to choose from no more than a dozen items, half of which I did not like in the first place. With plate in hand, I made my way to the food. Looking in vain for tortillas to make a burrito, I found none. At that moment, the waiter came out and asked if anyone would like tortillas. “Why yes, we would love some.” To which he replied, “We charge a quarter for each tortilla.” As I heard this perplexing statement (tortillas are one of the cheapest foods in New Mexico), I concluded right then and right there that this would be my first and last time eating in this establishment. If you think I’m being overly critical, almost to a person everyone else in our party said that they would not return either.
Maybe they were just having a bad day at the restaurant the time that we decided to visit. “Forgive and forget,” some would say. “Don’t be too harsh. Give them another try. It’ll be better next time.” Following the example of Jesus, we should be quick to offer forgiveness to someone who offends us and equally as quick to ask for forgiveness when sin against someone else. After all, forgiveness is central to the Gospel message. “I forgive you,” are some of the most beautiful words in the English language (or any language for that matter).
But, how does the Biblical principle of forgiveness apply in a situation where you have been “offended,” not by someone’s sin against you, but because of poor service? Must you forgive and forget the bad service you previously received at the eatery, only to willingly subject yourself (and your money) to the same quality the next go around? Why would you continue to be a customer — at a restaurant, bookstore, church, or website — when you have been treated shabbily on your first visit. What makes you think that your subsequent visits will be any more pleasant?
I’ve thought a lot about this in recent days, not just in the context of a restaurant, but in the context of my blog. I may view this blogging thing differently than some within the Baptist blogosphere. I look at everyone who stops by and reads my blog as a valued customer. In the case of From Law to Grace, you’re not spending any money, but you are spending your precious time in reading what I have written. I don’t expect everyone who reads my posts or takes the time to comment on them to agree with everything that I write. Life would be too boring if that were the case. But I hope those who read and those who take the extra time to dialogue with me will find your visits here to be pleasant. The customer may not always be right, but you will always be treated right around here.