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Life Evidenced in the Light of All Mankind

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Phil. 4:8

I grew up in a time where “being southern” seemed like an important value akin to protecting small animals and babies or being trustworthy and kind.  As with any new law by which to measure one’s acceptability, it came with extensive additional requirements to clarify and meet the originally intended standard, such as how one’s house is kept, how one entertains guests, manages children, dresses for certain occasions and so on.  A “properly set table” was narrowly defined, as in fact were most aspects of an approved individual.  “A true lady never/always…” began many of these ancillary rules.  Being a lady or a gentleman somehow took on monstrous importance to many of the grown-ups in  generations past.   My muscles tighten even as I reflect on these unquestioned assumptions about how we were all rightly judged by one another and ourselves.

I had to go to court last week because I had failed to appear for a court date that I didn’t realize I’d been assigned.  As I sat there, I saw all manner of hairdos and attire and found my first reaction was to judge the individuals by their choices in these matters.  My critique revealed a heart that still holds to the notion that there is an inherently superior way to dress/speak/decorate/host/and even dream.  In this equation, word choices devalue an individual (the “f” bomb heard uttered in all parts of speech walking down the streets in New York or doctorate level vocabulary which is very exacting in nature) as do certain social choices such as musical taste, dating behaviors or parenting styles.

I interpreted the invitation to gravitate toward the beautiful and praiseworthy as a directive toward man made customs and accouterments rather than the person and work of Jesus.  In so doing, as with any new law, I have actually missed the glory of Jesus in countless people, moments and places because I was focused on a product rather than a Living Person.  (for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.Phil 2:13)  Once again, I replaced the source of righteousness which is the completed and fulfilled Law in Jesus with custom/accouterment righteousness instead.   I’ve assumed value where it does not exist inherently and ignored the only value ever possible in humanity – the dignity and holiness of the One Who began and has promised to complete every good work that He begins in His creation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  There was a man sent from God whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  The true light  that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  John 1:1-11

Even tomorrow, which is Thanksgiving day, may I not miss the Light because I am looking for it in table settings, attire or vocabulary.  Instead, may I recognize Him in the signs of life around me, both that indicated in laughter and good reports and that indicated by soul wrestling, unmet longings and even exhaustion, because He is there.

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