Mark DeYounge said in chapel last year that “the bland and innocuous can suddenly take on beautiful hues and colors.” This was in reference to living a life for Christ. How can bland sights, like the weather this time of year, suddenly be changed into something we see as beautiful? I think it is about attitude.
When we shift our attitude of the world from a cynical and bitter perspective to something more reflective of how Jesus saw the world, we might just find that life becomes a little bit more enjoyable. This could mean noticing that despite the cold, the black squirrels around town still scavenge (and yes, there are black squirrels in Orange City).
Then in October, he quoted Karen Barker, who said, “ordinary can be significant if built in fullness,” which again he pointed to living a life for Christ. How can the everyday interactions we have with others, whether it be walking past a friend or a stranger on the sidewalk or eating lunch with a group of friends reflect Christ?
A simple smile goes a long way. Acknowledging that you see the random person walking past you, and throwing out a simple, “hey!” might just be what they needed to hear. Doing this ordinary motion is good for the soul as well, it asserts that we are not alone walking down the slick sidewalk on the way to class but are walking together with brothers and sisters in Christ. We may think the face across from us is a “rando,” but to Christ they are loved and so we are to love them, even if that love looks as small as a smile or a “hey.”
Then last week, Jan. 16, DeYounge quoted Dorothy Sayer, who said, “When we take a critical look at ourselves, we have to recognize that competition, not compassion, is our main motivation in life.” While I think this quote is true, that doesn’t mean we cannot change its significance—its measure of truth.
Our culture has shaped our ‘significance’ to be measured by marks like grades, income, awards, you name it. Our value has been construed to be measured by how much we have, how much we give and other forms of vanity. But what Sayer is saying, and what DeYounge is implying, is that we need to change our competitive spirits to spirits of compassion, spirits of love, spirits full of Christ. Then, and only then, can our fullness be seen as ordinary. Our love can be shaped into not just what everyone values implicitly, but what we value as ‘significant’.
In my senior capstone class, shoutout to psychology majors, the few of us—we’re reading a book about this very thing: love. James K. A. Smith, the author of “You Are What You Love,” points to what Augustine, I hope everyone knows who this guy is because he’s pretty cool, says about love: “since our hearts are made to find their end in God, we will experience a besetting anxiety and restlessness when we try to love substitutes.” When we love ourselves, which in our modern American culture is very easy to do, we will be left desiring more. But when we love God, our craving for ‘significance’ may be satisfied.
The point is this: being a loving Christian is hard, yes, but when we love like Christ then life may be more easily satisfied and uplifting. Doing the little things continuously can be tiring at first, but over time they will transmogrify—this is a cool word, look it up—into your fiber of being. Be loving, be like Christ.