I think a lot about words, how we use them and how prevalent certain words are. Recently I had a discussion with someone about breast pumps. There was a time in my life when breast pump was common terminology in our household and in conversations with friends.
When I say breast pump you probably think I mean some sort of electronic device that does all the action for you, resulting instantly in bottles of nourishment for infants.
But when I say breast pump what I really mean is a primitive manual contraption that I’m convinced was developed by the same man who devised torture chambers for prisoners of war.
If you have ever used one of these then you completely understand all the myriad of meanings and memories that the term breast pump carries for me. You might even understand that I maintain a healthy fear of breast pumps, especially if you consider that this was the method employed to help me nourish twins.
Thank God for the gift of repression. There are things that we simply are better off forgetting about.
Back in the day when I was using and talking about breast pumps, no one had ever heard of the term Social Networking. Networking wasn’t a word anyone I knew used. When we talked about a social, it was usually in connection to church. As in “Are you going to the church social on Saturday?” We have entire generations of people who have no idea what a church social is.
These are the same people who are Socially Connected. They are Facebooking and Twittering. And yes, you can count me among their ranks, although I keep in mind that I spent the bulk of my life having conversations that did not include Facebook or Twitter.
I knew what a MRE was but I had never heard the term hashtag.
Instead of being socially connected, I spent the bulk of my time having face-to-face conversations with people, where we talked about things like breast pumps, and how to raise up a strong-willed child, and how to instill the fear of the Lord in them, so that they would have a healthy reverence for the Holiest of Holies.
But somewhere along the way between breast pumps and Facebook, the conversations went awry. Somehow the notion of having a fear of the Lord became a truly horrible very bad thing. Preachers quit preaching about it. People got therapy to get over our fear of God. We learned to shake our fists in the face of God and to shout “That’s not fair!”
As if God ever promised us fairness.
Ann Voskamp said it better than I ever could — the next time you want to shout “That’s not fair!” replace whatever image you have in your mind with the image of a Crucified Christ and then declare “That’s not fair!”
That will bring you up by your shorts in a New York minute.
Losing our fear of the Lord has weakened us.
Oh, I’m not talking about that hiding in the closet whenever thunder claps sort of fear of the Lord. I am talking about the sort of fear of the Lord that leads to reverence. You know that all-over tingly feeling you get when you know you are in the presence of greatness?
Like when you are in an airport and you see a young soldier walk by, on his remaining one good leg, and the tears well up inside of you and your chest aches, and you want to rush over to him and say, Thank you, son, for all you gave up for us, but you don’t because you are afraid that you might blurt out the wrong thing, afraid that you simply can’t string together a coherent sentence that would adequately convey to him all the gratitude that is in your heart?
That’s the kind of fear of the Lord I’m talking about. A fear that leads to reverence.
Some of you might be old enough to remember what reverence felt like. It was the feeling we got when we were little kids and our favorite uncle or aunt came for a visit. They were our favorite because they loved us completely and weren’t shy about letting everyone else know it. They would pull us onto their laps or get on the floor and tickle us until we thought our heads might explode with joy.
Their visits always changed the dynamics in the household. Chores went undone and nobody got scolded for it. Everybody got along and the house was filled with laughter and stories we’d never heard before. And there was just something magical and mysterious about that aunt, that uncle. They held the secrets to our own parents’s childhood. Secrets that if we were very good and listened carefully, they would share. And so we sat at their feet gap-mouthed, being very good and with our listening ears on because we revered these kin and we always wanted to be counted as their very favorite.
When is the last time we approached God with that same sort of eagerness? With that same sort of reverent expectation?
If one hopes to stay culturally relevant in this socially networked community we’ve constructed one must be committed to being irreverent.
We must not consider anything too Holy.
Holy is the four-letter word we shun. And people who practice the disciplines of holiness are deemed self-righteous bigots who ought to be avoided or ridiculed in the town square. Because the only way we can go about our living out our irreverent lives is by declaring that Holiness doesn’t matter.
Except Tyler Braun, who grew up in the generation of the irreverent and blogs at ManofDepravity.com, has written the book on Why Holiness Matters.
Braun reminds us that God doesn’t care how many followers we have on Facebook or Twitter. What he cares about is whether we are truly willing to follow Him on a Holy path.
This book probably won’t land Braun an interview with Stephen Colbert but it should.
“Holiness,” Braun writes, “is God’s work of art in me.”
When is the last time you had a conversation about Holiness and what it means to be Holy?
For more information on Tyler Braun and his book, click here.