Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Jesus Smells Like Freshly Baked Bread

"Imagine being taken over to some family’s home and being told in advance that this family had really tapped into a deeper and truer and more beautiful way of relating to each other. But then, when the front door opens, all you smell are stale socks and a little pyramid of cat poo that’s lurking in the corner. The smell itself is already an argument against everything you’ve been told about these people, and anything they might have to say to you. But imagine if that door opens and you get hit with the smell of baking bread–you are now prepared to react differently. This is not to say that the wonderful smell establishes truth all on its own, but it is a testifying witness.
And this issue goes a lot further than mere pragmatic examples of efficacy in persuasion. If we Christians have the truth, and that truth is beautiful – more beautiful than any other message or religion out there – and then we present it in stammering, clumsy, irreverent, or ugly ways, well, we’re hypocrites. We’re living unfaithfully to the Truth. But if we live in a state of celebration and joy and gratitude, and if our words and our art and our presentations of that truth hit people like the smell of baking bread, then we’re getting somewhere."
   Too many times I have heard the phrase: "I just have to speak the truth about Jesus. If it's offensive, that's not my fault."  Sometimes that's true: the message of the Cross can be a hurdle all on its own. But what if it is your fault?  What if the Truth is obscured by the ugliness of your presentation, or maybe just the dullness, or just the lack of a concerted effort to know what you believe and why?  
   Claiming the right to be offensive can be an excuse to avoid the hard work of self-examination.  It's a way to dodge the possibility that the messenger might sometimes obscure or distort the message.  Nobody wants to think they have boarded up or dirtied the window through which people would see Christ.  Nobody wants to think the hurdles on the road to the cross were placed there by them.  
   It's hard to see yourself accurately, but the Kingdom of God is not for the timid.  You have to be strong to see yourself for who you are at, and you have to be ready to do the hard work of becoming something new. 
     On the other hand....  If you have ever met someone who knows how to blend the Truth of Christ with the beauty of their life, you know you have been in the presence of a true disciple.  

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