Monday, March 2, 2009

Elegance and Being “Salt and Light”

“It is elegance that is potent and subversive. Elegance in a world of vulgarity.”
–Vivienne Westwood.

“A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”
–Matthew 5:14b (TNIV).

The Christian equivalent of the above quote on elegance is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount message to be salt and light to a broken, confused world--persons searching for a way home spiritually, but without knowing at all how to get there. So, instead of elegance, often they continue in their vulgarity. As salt we prevent decay; as light we point the way... (M.O. humility, not arrogance.)

This elegance stands out as “dignified gracefulness or restrained beauty of style... a refined grace or dignified propriety.”[1] It is other-than the world’s normal (vulgar) way.

It stands alone.

Elegance is irresistible.

It oozes charisma.

It evokes strange responses.

It brings both praise and criticism. Praise from those recognising and welcoming truth and virtue. Criticism from those threatened personally by elegance. (We should not be swayed by these if we genuinely know we’re executing the will of God. In fact, we will often upset some if we are doing God’s will--it requires courage to truly follow God.)

The purpose of a Christian’s real elegance i.e. anything they do that shines far above what the world generally expects and anticipates and is thus blatantly noticeable in the thoroughly good way, is to glorify God the Father. We don’t do it for our own glory, but for God’s--with a motive like this, focussing on it, we’re destined to have better chances of success.

It is our destiny more than our past that defines us.[2] We have been sanctified for a reason; we’re on the road for the rest of the journey as servant princes and servant princesses, sons and daughters of the Most High King. And a condition of royalty is public proprietary. Royalty must serve and lead by example. We’re saved to serve--God directly, humankind, and possibly all creation.

The Christian’s light is to be a persistent but respectful beacon for the unrepentant; a voice and a strobe pointing the way home. It’s a conspicuous sign regarding how to deal in life; in the reliant maturity of what’s right, just and fair.

We can only ever hope to be true lights to the world with potent salt when engaged with Jesus, and open to his prod and rebuke. That’s a necessary condition of the journey toward elegance. We must remember that elegance has raw beauty about it.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
[2] Craig S. Keener, Matthew – IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997), p. 110.

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