Let me ask you a question: “How will you act when you get chopped?”
“What?” you may be asking yourself.
How will you act…what will you do…who will you honor, when you get chopped, cut, slammed, tackled, hit, slandered, beaten, knocked down, humiliated?
I was talking Sunday with Phoelicia, one of the members of our praise team, about the following story. And the more I think about it, well, the more I think about it. Let me share this with you…
My wife and I absolutely love The Food Network. My personal favorite was the old Japanese Iron Chef! (Classic!) We like Bobby Flay or Guy Fieri and Duff Goldman or Alton Brown. We also like the new Food Network Star winner, Aarti, and Aarti Party. (I just like the way Aarti says it. J)
But we also watch a lot of the show, Chopped, where four chefs compete in these surprise ingredient lightening round type settings, with one chef being “chopped”, or eliminated, with every challenge, until only one remains. Brutal.
The other night, one of the chefs on Chopped was a Christian named Lance Nitahara. A really humble guy who is the head chef for a Christian organization, Camp of the Woods (www.camp-of-the-woods.org) in the Adirondacks of Speculator, NY.
When he introduced himself, I was struck by his openness about his faith (why would that strike me???). And he talked about his love for God and how he prayed for God to grant him things like creativity and strength in the contest, and to help him compete in a way that would honor Him.
Now, how many of us would pray THAT prayer?
Anyway, to make a long story short, he competed very, very well and advanced to the final one-on-one round before finally being chopped. But the judges raved about both competitors’ dishes, saying that was some of the best food they had ever tasted in any Chopped contest.
And when Lance left the judges, he was smiling and polite and still thanking God for the opportunity to have competed. Even as he left, having been defeated, he didn’t allow the situation to defeat HIM. He didn’t let the pain of losing, overshadow his true purpose…which was to honor God with his actions, words, talents, demeanor, looks, motions, comments.
He maintained the heart and attitude of Christ, even as he was chopped.
It was very inspiring. And personally, I think we should all acknowledge Lance for his skill and talent and for his Christ-like demeanor throughout the entire process. He certainly doesn’t appear to be up for honoring himself, so maybe his Christian brothers and sisters should do it on his behalf.
(As a matter of fact, if you actually want to do that, email your thank-yous and comments to Camp Of the Woods at email@example.com.)
So what does all this have to do with me or you or God or being a Christian or anything remotely important?
Well, a lot, actually. Look…
When it comes to how Christians should act, Paul gives us a down-n-dirty schooling in the first two verses of Romans.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” - Romans 12: 1-2
A “living sacrifice”? “Acceptable to God”? “Transformed by the renewing of your mind”? That’s pretty heavy stuff. Very, very deep. Surely this passage was designed to be inspiring through its poetry than to be taken literally in application. Right?
I don’t think so.
I challenge you to admit, that while these verses tell of a state of being that is probably a world apart from where most of us are (myself included), it’s also one that we can (and should) aspire to.
Lance Nitahara exemplified this passage, perfectly, for me. Let’s get real…I was honestly watching the show, waiting for the guy to say a foul word. Or do something sneaky against one of the other chefs. Or even glare at someone in anger or jealously. Probably so I could shout “I knew it. I KNEW it!” at the TV.
I mean nothing. He was true to his profession…that is, his “profession” of faith.
He was presenting his body as a living sacrifice, or to be of good use, to God. He was IN the competition, but did not conform to the typical mannerisms of the normal competitor. And I believe he displayed qualities that showed the will of God.
Can we do the same? Can we hold ourselves to a higher standard? Can we conduct ourselves, even in times of stress and discomfort and duress and public view, in a way that is not only acceptable to God, but that “proves” His will?
Will your actions, regardless of your situation, prove that God’s will is being accomplished in that place or in that time? Proving God’s will…that’s mega-heavy.
Let's face it, there’s more here than I can cover in one blog entry. So let’s stop here and let that sink in. I know I could stand to let this whole idea absorb more, into my own life.
And for more detail on exactly what kinds of behavior God expects from His people, you could go to any one of dozens of biblical passages. But since we’re already in Romans, take a minute and read the entire twelfth and thirteenth chapters. And get your pencil out.
And be prepared to ask yourself “How will I act when I get chopped?”
Prayer: Lord, please help me to be aware of the fact that my life is not my own. But that while I am subject only to your judgment, I am bound by my love for You, to conduct myself in a way that is honorable to You, in all the moments of my life. Please help me to desire to live, constantly, in that way. Please help me to lead others to look to You, as they see the shadow of Christ in my actions and in my heart.
Take away: Think and pray about the question: “How would I act if no one is watching?” Put yourself in a hypothetical, tempting situation and then imagine that you are truly alone. How do you react? Don’t just cop-out with some religiously correct answer. Be emotionally honest with what you would desire to do and why you would do it or not do it. Give yourself details to make your picture as life-like as possible. Then apply it!
This blog entry is also available via the Beside Me All Along online devotional blog at www.besidemeallalong.blogspot.com.