Points to Ponder: Being Different by Being the Difference
Points to Ponder
Being Different by Being the Difference
We took our children to the Crayola Factory, a children's museum in Easton, PA. The diversity among the people who visit such places is something to see in itself. A young Jewish couple and their son, who was about five years old, particularly fascinated me. The mother wore a long black dress, a stylish hat that allowed her black hair to hang just above the shoulders, and some modest jewelry; small earrings and a broach, which bore some Hebrew lettering. I'm not a fashion expert, but her outfit reminded me of the smartly dressed women in the movies of the 1940-50's. Not to say she looked old-fashioned; she was very modest in appearance yet quite attractive. The striking difference to me was that so many other young women around there wore more revealing clothes, baring flesh and "interesting" tattoos. Yet this young lady in her modest appearance stood out among them because of her modesty.
Her son also drew my attention. He wore a black yarmulke (head covering), his hair neatly trimmed except for the curling locks on each side of his head. His clothing was plain, black pants and white shirt, like his dad. He wore eyeglasses. Their style of dress was unique, because it was an expression of their faith. They were so different and yet not self-conscious or self-isolating in any way. The boy played, and explored, and drew pictures, and tried things along with all the other kids.
I wondered if he was teased or picked on at home. In some areas of the world he would be despised, perhaps even killed just for being Jewish. Yet in this place he and his family freely expressed who they are; being Jewish, the people of Yahweh, was central to their identity. How fitting that only blocks away, on the courthouse steps in July 1776, the recently penned Declaration of Independence was read in public; Easton was one of the few places where that occurred. "All men are created equal..." Quite a lofty ideal. People do not come up with such things out of the goodness of their hearts.
We are still striving for the higher vision embodied in that Declaration. The words, as well as our diligent effort as a people to become what they express, are informed by the faith of our forebearers. Who but God our Creator could inspire such thoughts and compel the generation-to-generation relay, passing on these truths and the righteous call to embrace them.
In recent years, people are complaining that God is being removed from our culture. We'll soon hear of stores adopting policies that determine whether "Merry Christmas" is a permitted greeting. Some want "one nation under God' removed from the pledge. History books leave out stories of the significant role that faith in God has played in our heritage. It's as if some cultural engineers want to add an upper floor to the house by removing beams from the foundation. David's words come to mind.
"If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3)
The witness of that Jewish family declares quietly, yet clearly, what the righteous are to do. Live your faith without shame or apology. Will you stand out in the crowd, and look "strange" in the eyes of others? Yeah...and so? That is part of the calling. We are to live on earth as "sojourners and pilgrims", as citizens of heaven on assignment here in our communities (I Peter 2:11; Ephesians 2:19). There should be something "different" about you and me; a positive difference that stands out.
I admired that Jewish family, thinking to myself about the challenges and temptations they - particularly the little boy - may have faced (or will soon). How are they handling the twin idols of American culture? Sports is the king and Entertainment is the queen. We Christians, we're not faring too well. More people can quote lines from movies than verses from Scripture. And when I've visited other churches on Sunday mornings, I've seen the ball fields, racetrack, and other sport venues filled with kids and their parents.
"If the foundations are destroyed..." David says. Destruction will come from neglect. That which is no longer important eventually loses the authority it once had. It's in effect, dead.
Higher ideals make us appear strange to those who lack them. And when we compromise those standards, there is an undoing of what made us different. If we resemble the world, how can we hope to change it? Jesus sums it up.
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men" (Matthew 5:13).
You make a difference by becoming the difference; and that is Christ in you.
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 2:10am and 10:45am both days.