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It's Five Minute Friday! A weekly flashmob of bloggers, all joining together to write for five minutes (no stopping, no editing!) on a prompt provided by sweet Kate, then linking up and sharing a little comment love. For more posts, more details, and/or to join in, head here!

1. God made you on purpose and unique.
2. God has called you to be brave.
3. God will equip you to do it.
[from Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs]

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
[2 Corinthians 5:17]

I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside
[from Add to the Beauty by Sara Groves]

A few Sundays ago, I was sitting behind someone who intrigued me. He looked to be a little older than me, broad-shouldered and muscular and wearing a sailor-striped shirt that accented that fact, one earlobe was pieced, he was wearing hipster-esque glasses, and his blonde hair was buzzed back and sides but left long enough to comb over on the top. He was rocking the look, and it was obviously one made through conscious decision - I wanted to talk to him, ask him what he would do if he could do anything for a living (and if he was already doing it). The next week he was on stage, playing a guitar with the worship team, and I was glad to see him there. That gave me pause. Why do I care? Because he looks different than anyone else there. We go to a fairly diverse church, but there's still quite a bit of sameness. But this guy stood out.

It got me thinking about something that's been bugging me of late - it's always bothered me, but more so recently than before. I grew up on a steady diet of The Depravity of Man (which I still agree with - a glance at this week's news headlines is more than enough to display humanity's fallenness), but the concept of "new creation" that I absorbed was one where everyone stopped being anything that they were before, not just the sinful selfish parts, and instead became proper cookie-cutter Christians. A portion of that mentality was probably due to my own misconception, but at least some of it was taught. But that didn't seem to line up with a God who created such diversity. I mean, really... there are over 750 species of butterfly in North America alone; He could have just made one kind for pollinating flowers - or not made them at all, and left the job entirely up to the bees. But He didn't.

So somewhere between the reality of a God who bothered to make different kinds of bugs and the white plantation owners who, less than 200 years ago, told their black slaves that they'd be white in Heaven (!?!), there was a disconnect. If He has a purpose for me, so I need to be obedient and faithful to Him, but every aspect of who I am will be erased as a part of that purpose, then why does He need me at all? Won't someone else do just as well?

I rewrote the following paragraph several times before settling on this format. Because I am not a final authority on such things, nor do I wish to appear to be one - but these are the conclusions that I've reached.

- I believe that God made each and every person wholly unique and for a purpose. That when we were born, where we were born, our natural tendencies and talents, what physical characteristics, attributes, and even weaknesses we may possess are all important to the part we play in His story. Even the Fallen may be turned to good, as part of a tale of redemption.
- I believe, then, that "new creation" refers to heart and habits. That it is not definable as a hairstyle, dress code, diet, socioeconomic status, pastime, occupation, language, or ethnicity. The Church is meant to be a body - it seems popular to use that reminder in order to get people to do unpleasant tasks ("someone has to be the less comely parts, you know!") but it is then conveniently forgotten when a bartender, homeless veteran, or someone who's just a different color than everyone else present shows up.
- I believe, in the same line, that even the BC (before Christ) parts of our lives are important to our stories, and so we cannot make judgments based on anyone's past, regardless of the life (or body) altering decisions that may have been a part of it. A new creation deserves a new perspective - because we shouldn't be staring sourly at them, anyway, but marveling at the glory of God's redemption that's leaking out of them.

So, I am passionate about knitting, and I believe that He has a plan for that, and it can be used for His glory. I am motivated rather than discouraged by opposition - not a good thing when I'm directing that toward rightful authority, but invaluable when convicted of being in the right in the face of opposing Darkness. I bear the soul-scars of past sin struggle, and I believe that honestly and openly sharing those scars can bring healing to myself and others. I have a weird natural wiring for marketing, and while I haven't really found much of a use for it yet, I have no doubt that He will use it for the building of His Kingdom when the time is right, if I'm willing and available.

Opening our hands and giving up our gifts, talents, and dreams may not mean saying goodbye to them --- it may just mean willingly turning them over to the master Creator who can perfect them, then give them back and send us forth to wreak renewal and restoration, for His glory and not our own. After all, He's the One who instilled them in us to start with. 

So instead of wet-blanketing those whose talents differ from ours, let's encourage them to add to the beauty. Instead of hiding our own in a closet, let's let them shine for His glory. And instead of giving silent assent to those who seek to present an illusion of perfection, let's tell a better story - one of His redemptive power over our brokenness!


Sarah, love how you both opened and closed this post - but also love hearing your reflections in between. I think with all the dark that seems to be going on, it's important that we keep on telling the Light. xo.
Linda@Creekside said…
No more wet blankets. No more discouraging words. Let your light shine!
Karrilee Aggett said…
You know I love you, girlie! I can't wait to see how He uses all those amazing gifts He placed in you! Shine On, my friend!
Amy said…
I love your description of 'new creation' especially since I have begun seeing the change He is making in me. He has had me to take a new fresh look at the religious teachings I had and compare them to His Word.
Anonymous said…
This has been an important learning for me too. If God bothered to make ME and I'm different from everyone else I guess He must want me to be ME. Still working on this but I share your sense it's important. Glad I found your writings.
Tanya Anurag said…
We all have a purpose. Its up to us to identify it and work accordingly. And I believe.. sooner or later, it just happens!

Anna Rendell said…
I clicked over because I recognized the song lyrics - Sara Groves is my favorite =) Thanks for sharing your heart so beautifully in this. Blessings!

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