Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Loving Broccoli
('On Risking Joy in Public')


At coffee with a friend yesterday, I asked him, "What do you love? What are your passions? What things are you willing to look foolish for?"

He was silent for a moment, and then answered, "This may sound cliché, but I love the Bible - and teaching it to others."

My friend quickly rattled on to something else, but I stopped him and came back to his answer. I said, "You have to realize that your answer just then - the last thing you can call what you said is 'cliché.' I mean, seriously. Do you know how wonderfully absurd you sounded just then?"


A friend of mine once asked a group of us who among us would call ourselves good cooks. A few heads nodded. Would we call ourselves good drivers? A bunch of nods this time. Good pray-ers? Crickets. Nobody. Not a soul. Which was the answer my friend had anticipated and the bridge to her (wonderful) next point...

But here's the thing: I love to pray. Alone. With others. I'm not saying I'm a Picasso of petitions or anything, but I love prayer. So why wouldn't I raise my hand?


A nutritionist friend once time bemoaned the state of desserts in most families. Desserts as the carrot at the end of the stick. The reward for enduring the hardship of the meal. So a child eating broccoli for the very first time hears her mother say, "Finish your broccoli, and there's double chocolate brownie waiting for you on the other side." And she stops, looks down at her broccoli, and she thinks to herself, "Huh. I hadn't realized this was a thing I was expected not to like."


What if our job as preachers is to just love the scriptures in public?" - Lauren Winner


Nobody wants to be accused of acting "holier than thou," but an overreaction against this fear threatens to reduce Christians into a collection of sincere but non-committed hobbyists pretending not to have fallen too deeply in love; a collection of people in which no one will admit to loving broccoli because they know they're not supposed to. 

But I for one I find myself inspired by Christians who interpret the freedom made possible in Jesus as freedom to profess delight in delighting in God.

So everybody knows that stewardship season is upon us. The boiled spinach of the life of faith. And it's okay if you don't like it; if the taste is strange or unpalatable. Just don't take your cues from a world grown good at hiding love and delight. They don't know any better, and besides that, their joyless "keep calm" schtick is simply not interesting. It's okay to enjoy. Even stewardship! Praise God, it is good to enjoy it. You and I were made for holiness. Holiness, not a stick to thwack at others, but the locating of ourselves in Christ. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," sings the psalmist. How beautiful when God's people sing their love of life with God.

I share these thoughts not because I yearn for a world in which Christians love Scripture, say their prayers, give generously, and constantly offer themselves in sacrificial ways that point to Jesus crucified and risen, but because I believe such a world already exists. But risk foolishness. Let your holiness show. Do you know how wonderfully absurd you sound when you do?

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