The Only Dentist We Can Trust?
Acts Of Grace Grows A Sense of God’s Grace
by Eric Elkin
I was told at one time, the neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Bay Ridge Brooklyn had more Norwegians living in them than Oslo, Norway. We used to hear the funniest stories from the children who grew up in these neighborhoods in the ’60s and ’70s. One story that always made me laugh was the story about Dr. Ole Swenson (not his real name), a Norwegian dentist in Bay Ridge.
A friend of ours told us every Norwegian kid in the neighborhood went to him for dental work. And, he was quite possibly the worst dentist ever. The friend swears he was blind. He thought Dr. Swenson would fish around in your mouth until he found something to work on. His use of pain killers was sparse which meant the patient usually left his chair in utter pain.
One time our friend came home, his mouth was swollen, bleeding and throbbing with pain. He said to his mother, “Mom, I don’t think Dr. Swenson is a very good dentist.” She hit him in the head and told him to be quiet. “Dr. Swenson,” she said, “is a good Norwegian and the only dentist we can trust.”
Someone close by overheard him share that last comment about "A good Norwegian and the only dentist we can trust" and said, “Are you talking Dr. Swenson?” And the stories started flying. He wasn’t lying. Every Norwegian kid in Brooklyn did go to Dr. Ole Swenson. Despite the repeated pain and trauma, he was a good Norwegian and the only dentist they could trust.
This kind of mentality is why I am suspicious of businesses that promote themselves as Good Christians. Once, we called a plumber who advertised himself as a “Good Christian.” I’m was not sure how being a “Good Christian” was going to help me with a broken pipe, but I needed the help, and he was the only available option. The promotion also made me wonder, what makes you a “good” Christian?
We got the work done and thought the bill a little high. The next time we went with the plumber who never talked about faith, and I doubt a Christian. We noticed he was significantly cheaper than the “good” Christian. In my view, an even more contemporary translation would include Jesus teaching, “Beware of those who promote themselves as good Christians, because it is going to cost you an arm and a leg.”
Reading this text from Matthew, my thoughts turn to the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times, use words when necessary.” Because when our actions define us the words of Jesus comes off the scrolls and into our hearts. A person who grants grace to another begins to sense God’s grace at work in them.
Click to read Matthew 6: 1-6
When has someone else’s public display of faith turned you off?
In what public display of faith you find meaning?
When was a time you sensed God’s grace at work in you?
How is God working behind the scenes in you today?