I've always loved contrasts. Words like paradox, oxymoron, and yin/yang serve as humbling reminders of how dangerous it is to assert oneself too strongly. Throughout life, I've always been wary of forcefully insisting that I'm right, since there always seems to be too much conflicting data on any given topic. Debaters and students quickly find that, no matter what the issue is, there are stacks of research of equal height to "verify" both sides. I like to think that my gentle nature is simply a reflection of this fact, but I'm sure there are those who would argue that I'm simply wishy-washy.
To be sure, the only thing I'm 100% convinced of is God and His Word. May God never let that be shaken.
My reading today offered a rather intense contrast. The FIRST thing I read today was an article on the front page of my local newspaper. It describes some fake mud that SUV drivers can spray on their vehicles to give the appearance of actually using your RV for off-road activity. The brisk sales of this product suggests that many are loathe to be perceived as driving such gas guzzlers simply because they can. This, folks, is front page news.
The LAST thing I read today was an online article on Christian suffering titled "It's Hard To Be Like Jesus." I'm going to print it out, and carry it around with me so I can pull it out any time I feel like life's not treating me fairly.
It was easy to read the first article, and feel superior to the crowd that would shell out money to gaurd their image. Can you imagine catching someone in the act of spraying this stuff on their SUV? I can almost hear their defense:
"Well, I really AM a rugged kind of guy, and I really do PLAN on doing some off-roading. But you know, with the business of life and all, I just haven't had a chance to actually GET to it yet. Hey, I'm just putting across the image of who I really am INSIDE - the guy I'm BECOMING, you know?"
Let's give our sprayer credit where it's due. Maybe he does have SOME rugged qualities. Given time and practice, perhap he WILL grow in to the daring off-roading "stud of the mud" he envisions. Some day. Today however, we know how far he is from that ideal.
I could only hope I would be granted such understanding from a suffering missionary who would examine my comfy Christian walk. I can almost hear my defense:
"Well, I really AM willing to pick up my cross daily, and I really do PLAN on doing some serious missionary work. But you know, with the business of earthly life and all, I just haven't had a chance to actually GET to it yet. By calling myself a committed Christian, I'm just putting across the image of who I really am INSIDE - the guy I'm BECOMING, you know?"
Luckily, a true man of God would probably not condemn me as a faker, because he would know that our maker will not cease His work of changing us until we are like Christ. Meantime, I'm reminded of how far I am from that ideal.
Meantime, I believe God has reminded me why it's not for me to judge the SUV sprayers of the world. He knows that ALL of His followers have spray cans of various sizes. Dare I imagine what Jesus would say to us, I think it would be something like: "Just keep following me in Faith, and I'll loosen your grip on that spray can until there's no need for it."
Thank you Jesus, for your awesome patience.