On a short stroll before dinner yesterday, my lovely wife and I happened to pass by a house where an older couple were puttering around in their yard. The initial niceties were of course conveyed, for that is expected among the human race, and their next statement was of course also expected by me. “Sure is windy out today.” How is one supposed to continue on in a conversation when the obvious is the first thing stated? Now, I am not asking you for an answer, for each circumstance must be taken as an individualized occurrence, but for me the obvious has become the conversation of the mundane. I already know it is windy, and by reason of common sense I am well aware that it is windy outside and not inside.
I have lived in areas where when one is coming upon a vehicle heading in the opposite direction, it is customary to lift one finger or two in response to this ever so fleeting moment. If one does so in return to the gesture, one is seen as friendly, if not, well the opposite must be true, that person was not friendly. It is no different than the obvious statement yesterday, human beings have a need, real or imagined to have their existence recognized, and most generally in a positive manner, although some, for reasons known only to themselves, have the inverse of that desire, a need as it were to be abased in one form or another. The obvious has been regurgitated by these individuals for so many years that I do not believe they realize that they are even doing so anymore, but the return of the gesture given or not, they never forget.
These are the “small talkers,” the subject matters they convey rarely are expounded upon in anything other than what will not last, the immediate if you will, they are clouds without rain (Prov. 25:14) and their words are beneficial only when they bring recognition upon themselves. You have met them, and if they fit the generalized category, they have not and are not ever going to change. It is as if their minds reached a certain point in their lives, a mental block of sorts, where they can converse all day about what they can see, what they have experienced, but forward thought is foreign to them. They are, for the most part, easily recognizable at the first utterances they give, for it will be either relative to your health, “How are you,” the current circumstances surrounding them, “It sure is windy,” or something on the recent past, “Did you hear about.” There is no substance to their conversations, but if one does not perform the expected niceties, then one is seen as unfriendly, even contentious.
When a subject of pertinent value is brought to their attention, they will almost inevitably put up a defensive mechanism, and if the subject matter is continued by you, they will become either more defensive or simply state that they have more pressing matters to attend to. The relative subject matter? That would be Jesus my friends, the one name for these individuals that they will flee from in almost any conversation. I am sorry to say that many of these individuals that I have met I have met in nearly every church that I have attended, the obvious is safer than the eternal, statements are safer than questions, the temporary is seen as security, the eternal, not so much.
It would be nice if I could liken them to the man who said, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief,” (Mark 9:24) but most will not even go that far, most will move on to the next person who has information about what the weather is supposed to be like next week, even if they already have heard the forecast themselves. I do not know if they are blinded or if they are self-deceived, but I do know fear when I see it, even in its most subtle forms. So yesterday, I just nodded and smiled and kept walking, they were not interested in Christ at that moment, they just wanted to perform the niceties, to have their existence recognized, to feel polite. That’s alright, I was not really in the mood for inane, obvious chatter at the moment anyway.
One day soon though, they are going to have to have a conversation with Someone, and He is not concerned with the weather, He controls it.