Two passages from 2 Corinithians:
4: 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
10: 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
This week’s Southern conversation was around “not NICE” (pronounced NASS) versus NOT nice (still pronounced NASS, but the first word has the emphasis and an extra syllable – NA-AH-T).
Try explaining to a Yankee this Southern verbal quirk. The two things have totally different meanings. Once is that some one’s behavior could be better, that the person in question may have suspect motives (social climbing?) while the other one, with the two-syllable “not’ implies suspect morals. Neither is a good thing. But never, ever assume because a Southern woman has referred to you as “nice” that this is a good thing either.
How nice. Bless your heart!
Southerners are different. This means that those of us who live in the North have had to adapt a little bit to the language, the culture up here. It’s a relief to know or bump into other Southerns – the language barrier falls away and you can have a real discussion.
So this is how I read the two scriptures from Corinthians: we ain’t like them. Our battles, our conflicts are different. Try explaining to an athiest how you’re battling a stronghold of pride, or struggling with obedience in the area of stewardship (and if you don’t know any, come to New York I can find you some without any trouble at all). Our fighting is different. For one, we fight. We don’t just say oh well it’s genetics or it’s a habit and accept the state of things. We don’t say how all our friends are doing it. We don’t roll over when Satan starts lying to us or to our families. WE fight and we fight hard. But to look at us during a heated battle, you might not know what you’re seeing: Bible out, hands up, oil on the forehead and the rest. Doesn’t look like warfare to those outside our faith. Probably, it just looks odd.
And we believe different things about our bodies. We don’t mind our weaknesses – the ones that aren’t strongholds – because those are the cracks the light shows through. My cracks look a lot like scars from my abusive first marriage for example, but it means that I understand fear and anxiety and total dependence on God through faith. I get survival. I also know when to be quiet and let God do the talking for me.
I don’t buy that I’m only of value as long as I’m under 25 and wear a bikini. I don’t agree that my value is in providing sex to a man, who is allowed to treat me as a commodity and upgrade when he feels like it. I’m not acceptable because my home puts Martha Stewart to shame (for more on “Martha” – it seems to be something with the name – check out Luke. Housekeeping, not always the top priority in God’s Kingdom).
I am a princess, the daughter of a King and if you’re planning to put your hands on me for anything other than prayer or a friendly hug, change your plans! The same is true of my daughters. My body is a cathedral built out of broken bones and a broken heart, made to serve and praise and my God lives there. If I do my job right with my kids – every one of them will be a house of the Lord and I won’t get to live in it, but HE will.
Our culture shows us “perfect” bodies that we’re supposed to want, achieved through hours of deprivation, hours at the gym or plastic surgery, bodies that are so perfect there is no room for brokenness, or light to shine out. But the fact is those perfect bodies will decay either with age or with death and then where will their owners live?
I’d be delighted if my earthly home were a little less expanded after the last few babies, and I’d be delighted if it didn’t remind me of the passing of years with some aches and pains. But it’s my house for now, and I know the one I get next will be indescribably better. So this one doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be revered as the producer of babies, the holder of my husband and the temple of the Lord, treated carefully like the fragile clay jar it is and then left behind when I don’t need it anymore.
So no, we are not like the World, and we aren’t supposed to be.
If we find ourselves conforming, rather than transforming, we need to stop and think not only WHO we are, but WHOSE we are. Our God isn’t like their gods. We are a mighty, mighty people of the Lord, however our vessels look to the rest. We are a royal priesthood, a nation apart. We are the sheep who know His voice. We are the remant of Israel, the Covenant people, those redeemed by the blood and passed over by the Angel of Death. Our names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We are manna-feeders and blood-washers and we are NOT like everyone else. Praise God!
Deuteronomy 33: 29
Blessed are you, Israel!
Who is like you,
a people saved by the LORD?
He is your shield and helper
and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you,
and you will tread on their heights.”