In my devotions this morning I read Psalm 25 and thought about who my enemies might be today. I take David to have a literal idea of who his enemies were, Saul and other such folks who sought to destroy him, literally. What about a white middle class male preacher? Who are his enemies? I mean really no one is chasing me down.
All I could think of was the growing animosity of the general liberal culture towards people of the Christian faith. It seems a person can say more rude and uncaring words about Christianity than any other religion. I could give examples but I am confident you can find the if you look for them. I also thought of the reality that while I am not an especially political thinker and cannot claim to be overly politically engaged I have found reason to write to my member of Parliament twice in three months (the only previous contact over there years was my thanks for receiving summer student job grant funding).
There is a sense in which Christians do not want to stand out, we are reluctant to be out on a limb in front of people, declaring ourselves outsiders from the camp. There is a sense in which this is happening regardless of how we go about the mission of the church. Some are standing up and being proud, but many more are silent.
When I started to get down on myself about silence I decided it was time for my morning run. I put on my reflective gloves, hat, and vest (with and arrow on the back, not less) designed to keep me visible. I always have a twinge of the teenager when I get this stuff on, how uncool can I be? Who wants this much attention? What a dork…you know how it goes.
Then I remember the morning I was hit by a pick-up and how blessed I am to have literally walked away after flying through the air. I think of my wife and children who rely on me in all sorts of ways, and I put the gear on. I don’t think Christians are unique in not wanting to be seen or to stand out, just think about the old adage that at a funeral you are better in the casket than at the podium since most fear public speaking more than death! There is something universal about not wanting to stand out, wanting to belong.
Christians, we must stand up for what we believe, we must be seen, and belong to one another and to God. The light came into the world and the darkness could not overcome it, just as no matter how dark and rainy/foggy it may be on my runs, my reflective gear makes me hard to miss. There are real dangers out there for us and for others. Reflective gear is jarring, hard and harsh, it has to be, we don’t need to be as we bear the gentle torch of the light of the world. We can be winsome, warm, and welcoming, like a light on a cold winters eve that signifies warmth and shelter.
While in running my protection and hope appears to be in reflective gear, in life (and truly in running which is mostly a form of meditation and prayer for me) it is the Lord I depend upon, may integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you. May it be more so for me and for you.