Friday, January 4, 2013

My brother is hosting "30 Days of Writing Prompts," where every day he gives us a prompt, and we have to write a minimum of 200 words on the chosen subject. Today's prompt is: "Share one of your favorite quotes. Tell the reader why it is important, significant, or meaningful."

I wrote the following as my response, and thought I'd share it here on my blog, which shamefully gets ignored most of the time. :-)

Edwin Paxton Hood—an English author—once said, “Be as careful of the books you read, as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.” My father firmly believed this, and, as a result, kept us well supplied with a treasure trove of books.

Books became some of my best friends, and I spent much time with them. I have therefore read numerous books and learned many things from them. But of all the books I have read and of all the lives and theology I have explored through them, one of the quotes that has stayed with me for many years now comes from a book called, “Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ” by John Piper. In this book, Mr. Piper states, “The glory of Jesus Christ is that He is always out of sync with the world and therefore always relevant for the world. If He fit nicely, He would be of little use.”

As a young girl, I knew that I did not “fit in” with the others my age. I dressed differently, talked differently, listened to different music, and even went to school differently. Sometimes I felt glad about this fact, but often I struggled with it. I hated the way the other girls in my Sunday school class would stare at me, ignore me, or even insult me—often insinuating that I found my clothes in my granny’s attic trunk.

I struggled with this for many years. But one day my dad gave me the book by John Piper, encouraging me to read it. When I reached that sentence I stopped, paused, and reread it several times. I then realized that following in Christ’s footsteps requires being out of “sync” with the culture around us.

C.S. Lewis once said, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Indeed, Jesus came preaching a message entirely different from the culture of the time. He taught that if a soldier compelled you to carry his sack a mile, you should go with him for two miles. Shocking! He healed on the Sabbath day. Horror! He outright called the people around Him an “evil and adulterous generation,” “whited sepulchers,” and a “faithless generation.” Outrageous! Yet, people came away saying, “Never man spake like this man!” Even as a boy, all who heard Him speak were amazed at His answers.

Jesus taught true love and sacrifice, yet He did not mince words when it came to telling the truth. Because His message contrasted so starkly with the “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” of the Scribes and Pharisees, He became relevant and therefore useful to the world. Had He come merely preaching the rules of the religious leaders of that day, He could not have brought life to us, nor could He have freed us from the bondage of sin.

Mr. Piper’s book taught me that because I serve the Risen Lord, I do not need to “fit in” with the world around me. If I look like they do, talk like they do, listen to their music, watch their movies, read their books, etc., why should they listen to me when I tell them of a Christ Who came to deliver them from their sin and bondage? No, as I learned that day, I MUST remain “out of sync with world” so that I can become relevant and useful to the world.


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