So, you are in St. Paul working under your car and checking out the hole in your tailpipe when the jack slips and the car comes down, pinning your leg under the wheel. Hearing the noise from his yard next door, your neighbor shuffles over and assesses the situation. How he responds will tell you if he is, as we say in Minnesota, ‘from around here.’ If the neighbor exclaims, ‘Oh Heavens! He’s gonna die! Someone call an ambulance!” then he’s not from around here. A Minnesotan is seldom that direct. Someone from around here would peek under the car to see if your eyes were still open and you were breathing. If you were, he’d say, ‘So…the car is on your right leg. You know, a lotta guys would have blocked up the car before crawlin’ under there, then.”
When we see an ugly baby, we say, ‘Well, that certainly is a baby.”
When a mohawk-crowned teenage with a b0lt through his nose drops off our paper, we say to our spouse, ‘He’s different.”
You’ll never find someone born and bred in Minnesota as a major league umpire. If a irate manage when chest-to-chest and then nose-to-nose and then started kicking dirt at a Minnesota man in major league blue, a Gopher-state umpire would say, ‘So maybe we should tone it down a bit and keep the dirt on the field here, then.’
We are Minnesota Nice. We are indirect, if we bother to make a comment at all.
Up in these parts, we bring Minnesota nice into the church, too. We’re not much for making a direct fuss when those around us mess up, much less kick dirt and get in their face when they make a really bad. That’s now how things are done in Minnesota.
Confronting sin in the church, Dealing with a sinful believer
But Minnesota nice was not the approach we often see for addressing mess ups and bad calls by God’s people in the Bible. Neither God nor Moses’ wife was not Minnesota nice in confronting Moses about not circumcising his son as commanded (Exodus 4:24-26). Joshua was anything but Minnesota nice with Achan for his community-impacting sin at Jericho (Joshua 7) Nathan could have hardly been more direct when he poked his finger in David’s face over his trist with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12). The Apostle Paul was more like a New York City Italian than a Minnesota Scandanavian when he in effect cuffed a back-sliding Peter upside the head and blurted out, ‘Yo, whaddya doin’? You stupid or somethin’?”‘ in Antioch (Galatians 2:11-21)
Here’s a question for you? “Was Jesus ‘Minnesota nice?’ Well, he wasn’t Minnesota nice with the disciples when they failed when given pop quizzes on their faith (Matthew 8:26, 14:13 for example). He got in Peter’s face like a big league manager and kicked some serious dirt when Peter made a really bad call (Matthew 16:22-23). For an entire chapter Jesus filets the Pharisees (Matthew 23). And these are not the only incidents where Jesus was direct with the curious, the convinced, and the committed people who followed him when they did foolish or outright sinful things.
In the church, are we as the family of God too Minnesota nice too often?
What do you think?