Friday, November 16, 2012

Conduct Unbecoming

Then God said, "let us make man in our image, in our likeness...."  Genesis 1:26

Image:  English - a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing
            Hebrew - Selem - image or likeness, resemblance, idol.  Selem does not signify an exact duplicate, but only the shadow of a thing, representing the original in an imprecise manner and lacking the essential characteristics of the original.

Likeness: - English - resemblance, the quality or state of being like
                Hebrew - Demut - to compare.  Likeness, resemblance; image, model, pattern, or shape.

Hubby tells me about Naval officers, in positions of responsibility and authority that he once held, who have been fired for "conduct unbecoming an officer."  There are multiple activities that have caused these once trusted officers of our military to be judged with unbecoming conduct.

I've always thought that it was interesting, in all our years as an active duty Navy family, that a community, the military, has such standards, a code of conduct if you will, that can and will judge your behavior as unbecoming or becoming.  A service member's entire career can be made or broken based on his conduct, becoming or otherwise.

Then it ruminates around in my brain, this word, unbecoming and I wonder, what if all of life had such a plumb line?  Conduct unbecoming a mother.  Conduct unbecoming a father.  Conduct unbecoming a restaurant cook, a bus driver, a teacher, a nurse and here's the big one...drum roll....gasp...conduct unbecoming a Christian.  Ssshhhh don't say that too loudly.

A follower of Jesus was not called Christian as an esteemed title.  In fact, it wasn't used until after Jesus had died and ascended into heaven that the followers of Jesus were given the title in ridicule, not honor.  Not much has changed in the last two thousand plus years.  Depending on the day or the hour or the moment even, I call myself a Christian in two ways:  out of pride, or out of embarrassment.

When I look back on how badly I represent my Savior, I can understand why unbelievers say the word with such scorn in their voices.  I have done my part to give Christ a bad name.  I have stood with the multitude behaving in a way, many times, in an unbecoming manner for what a Christ follower should look like.

What exactly does a Christ follower look like?  What is it that we expect a Christian do and say and proclaim?  How do you expect a Christ follower to act, to conduct themselves?

Exactly like Jesus did?  The last time I checked, Jesus was the only one who lived perfectly.  Jesus has been the only one who died, and rose again.  For me.  No one else in my life EVER said, "Ronda, I'm going to die for you so that you can have peace.  So that you can have freedom from the sin that constantly is trying to trap you and entangle you."

Nope.  That person hasn't shown up yet.  So far, Jesus has been the only one who did everything I needed to be done to be declared holy in his sight.

But me and millions of others who call ourselves by His name, don't look so holy in the world's eyes.  The hurting world's eyes.


For children of God created by God in His image and likeness, sometimes, okay, most times, we don't do a very good job reflecting the image.  Maybe it's because we aren't expected to be an exact replica.  We can't be an exact replica.  If we could, we'd have no need for Him.  We'd have no need for the One who created us in his selem, his demut.

I know in my mind, many, many times I have thought, "well that wasn't very 'Christian of you/me/them,'" with the tones of disgust making it's way through somewhat clenched teeth.

Well duh!  If I'm expecting a Christian to be Christ I will be disappointed because Christians are not Christ!  Christians are just people, hurting people, messed up people, disappointed people, abused people, neglected people, who don't look like Christ, but are simply drawn to Christ.  They're only the shadow of Christ.

Those of us who get it, who get the gospel, who know, believe, trust and understand that there is NOTHING, no-thing, no conduct that will save me and free me from the consequences of my sinful condition except Jesus Christ alone, still, over and over - I know I'm not the only one who does this - holds myself and other Christians to an unattainable code of conduct.  I hold myself and others to one, one that I made, not God.  

I heard a radio preacher once say, I'm paraphrasing here, ' Christ coming to earth, leaving the glories of his heavenly home and coming down and putting on the flesh of a human being would be like human beings becoming a slug.'

A slug?  Really?  A slug is a pest in a garden.  A slug is a snail without a shell.  A slug is slimy and when it's in a dry place it finds a wet place in which to hide - under rocks, under fallen trees, under planters.

A slug is made in the selem of a Holy God?  Somehow, someway, we slugs resemble Christ?

Selem  "does not signify an exact duplicate, but only the shadow of a thing, representing the original in an imprecise manner and lacking the essential characteristics of the original."

Boy, we slugs sure think we have it all figured out, don't we?  We think we know what sins are the big ones, the bad ones, the unforgivable ones.  We slugs like to point our fingers at the ones who disagree with us and sin against us and commit sins we find appalling.  We slugs like to think our mucus isn't all that gross.

Somehow, someway, from time to time, the hurting world sees Christ in us slugs.

Talk about a miracle.

Somehow, someway, from time to time, we Christ followers say the right thing, do the right thing, reflect the original in an imprecise manner, even missing some of the essential characteristics of the original, but still the hurting can see Christ in us.

If we're proud to be a Christ follower, we probably shouldn't be.  Christ wasn't proud.  Christ lived in the slug suit.  He felt the humility of being a slug.  He lived the limited life of being a slug.  He left behind his throne, his heavenly, glorious home, He left His dad, the creator of the world to come and live... like a slug.

If we're throwing our bibles at the hurting and calling them sinners instead of reaching out to them like a Selem of God, following the example He showed us, then maybe we need to step back and look at the original.

Out of, and in, his slug suit.

Even in his slug suit he spoke truth in love.  He never spoke truth without love.  He had all the essential characteristics of being God while he was living like a slug.

We slugs are good at speaking the truth, without a lot, if any sometimes, Love.

We slugs are good at serving but really like being served more.

We slugs like to point fingers at the sins of others but never take the time to let God search our heart to reveal the hidden sins in us.

Ugh. Slugs.  

Look at the detail of the Original.  Find His characteristics.  Study His voice.  Listen to how He spoke to the lost and hurting.

A shadow never walks by itself.  A shadow is only present in the presence of the sun.  We might not be able to see details in the shadow, but just because we can't see them doesn't mean they are not there.

A shadow means the Son is there.

Hurting world, you without Christ, forgive us for being such a poor reflection...In the shadow that we are lies details and wonder far beyond your hopes and dreams.  Look beyond our poor and limited reflective abilities and see Him.

He, not us, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.   For by him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

He's the One who loves you.  Perfectly.

He's the One who never says the wrong things to you at the wrong time.

He's the One who knows your hurting heart.

He's the One who died.  For you.

He's the One who rose.  For you.

He's the One who we slugs try and succeed horribly to reflect.

He's the One.

For you.


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