Today in church our Pastor was telling a story about a Pastor whose daughter wanted to go to Uganda. The father was worried about her safety and it took two years for him to allow her to go and risk her safety even to do God's work. After seeing her on her way the father said, "I wanted her to be a respectable Christian not a real one."
Respectable or real? There is a difference isn't there? The sermon today was about being willing to die for Christ. Willing. To. Die. I don't know about where you live, but in my little corner of the world that isn't a literal thing much anymore. At least on the surface.
I'm sure there are opportunities to stand up and put ourselves in harms way to do what is right in God's eyes, but attending worship and identifying myself as a Christian isn't particularly dangerous here.
But, what is real and what is respectable? Sometimes doing the hard things, the things that make us stand out and be seen and heard are the things that identify us as real rather than respectable.
Unfortunately, I think I am more respectable than real. (Well, I try to be respectable. ;) ) I am uncomfortable about standing up and speaking out. The Husband used to joke that when he was speaking in church you'd find his wife under the pew. Not really, but... It's not that I don't want to be seen or have my voice heard, it's the fear of offending or being judged or *gasp* someone thinking I am wrong, even when I know I'm right. I am also uncomfortable with those I care about standing up and speaking out. I guess all those times my dad said, "Don't make waves!" stuck.
An off topic, when my dad heard that the Husband was going to seminary his only request was that we not become missionaries in an underdeveloped country. I'm fairly certain landing in Western New York would not have broken that requested promise.
So I try to be respectable but I need to be real. It's scary though, to stand out and be different and do the hard things. I don't do it often enough. I hide behind the quote attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi (though attribution is unproved), to "Preach the gospel always, when necessary use words." Yes, I hide behind it. I use it as a crutch and an excuse to not speak out. If I just behave in a respectable Christian manner, whatever that is, I am doing the right thing, right? Debatable, particularly since my motivation is to be safe and respectable.
I don't know if I can challenge myself to start speaking out. Maybe this blog is my speaking out, my voice and the manner in which I am meant to speak. This and raising my kids to do the right things within their sphere, to speak out appropriately, which they do, on occasion. Don't make waves, I tell them. Be sure to follow the rules even when you see something wrong because it could be on your permanent record! Would I have been the mom saying, "Don't you follow that Jesus guy, he's going to get arrested! What will people think?!" I truly hope not but...I will plead the Fifth and refuse to answer on the grounds that I could incriminate myself. God knows my heart though.
God knows and regardless of whether we're real or respectable or a little bit of both, God loves us and forgives us and in that grace we are saved. Thanks be to God.