Like A Sore Thumb

I hate to fly on airplanes. From the yellow plastic keg cup oxygen masks to the idea that a car seatbelt is going to save you in a plane crash, everything that’s supposed to make air travel “safe” seems to be ridiculously far fetched.

One of the only things I do like about air travel is the airport. The airport is the transportational equivalent of the shopping mall; every town worth anything has one, and they usually have the same basic essentials.

While they may differ in design, modern airports share the same basic desire to offer us overpriced haircuts, shoeshines, and sandwiches, coupled with partial strip searches and futuristic hand chapping technology.

What’s not to love?

Something I’ve learned in my travels is that when I’m flying back into Portland International Airport, from anywhere else in the world, I don’t actually actually need to know the gate number that my flight is leaving from: I just need to know the airline I’m flying with.

This isn’t because I already know which gate number I’m flying out of, because that changes from day to day and from airport to airport. I don’t need to know because you can easily walk down the concourse of Mos Eisley Spaceport and pick out the motley crew of people boarding a starship for Portland, Oregon.

The gate headed to Portland is ALWAYS populated by a group of people with absolutely no coherent common denominators, and a complete indifference to regulatory order.

It’s a gnarly cross section of humanity featuring an abundance of fleece vests, woolen pants, socked birkenstocks, cowboy hats, Real Tree camo, and deep v-necks… often on the same middle-aged, mulleted woman.

If you’re wondering how I know this gate isn’t headed to Boise, I’ll give you a sure fire way of differentiating: *Boise gates are devoid of canvas bags filled with books, hemp jewelry, and grotesque piercings. If you see any of these, you’re headed to Portland.

Now before you take this post as an all-out-slag on Portland, understand that Oregon has only one major airport. This means that all the people headed to the entirely juxtaposed cities of Eugene, Pendleton, Astoria, Salem,and Milton Freewater must ridethe same plane out of Honolulu… and we all know that if you want to wear a beanie with ear flaps on Waikiki Beach, you’ve gotta bring yours with you from Hood River.

The plane to Portland is carrying a greater percentage of diverse passengers, and Subaru keychains, than a plane headed to Chicago.

My point isn’t that Oregon has no understanding of fashion, it’s that Oregonians, while diverse, are recognizable at a glance anywhere in the world. They take whatever aspect of Oregon they own with them as they go out into the world; zip off cargo pants and all.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the connection I’m about to make with Christians here does it?

What if Christians were recognizable at a glance, not for their moderately priced hair cuts or semi-fashionable footwear, but because they carried the diverse aspects of Jesus Christ  with them into the world whenever they left their home?  If Christians were undeniably marked with the common denominators of honesty and graciousness would people desire to approach and engage them in friendly conversation or even ask them for advice on something?

What if welfare wasn’t needed because people knew to ask churches for help instead of government?

Imagine a little league game where parents are unfailingly courageous in their support of umpires… as opposed to the enabling of children?

Picture a highway  interchange where fish accented minivans signal with their blinkers instead of their middle fingers.

How about a coffee shop gathering where a group of people with opened Bibles listened to each another’s hearts instead of dispensing political opinion?

What if gossip and rumor ended because we didn’t repeat it?

I could really go on for days listing things I’ve been guilty of, but I’m probably making you uncomfortable too aren’t I?  The crux here is that we each get a choice about what we are going to “wear” when we go out into the world, and people who live lives of grace and truth leave home clothed in humility.

Like Jesus did when he left heaven and stepped into humanity for the purpose of dying for us.

Humility is essential to living a discernible Christian life because none of us give grace to, or deal honestly with, people that we believe we are better than.  When we recognize that a life emulating Jesus is a life lived listening to the master command us to be humble servants, our lives begin to change in ways that don’t merely benefit us, it benefits everyone around us.

Humble people aren’t devoid of confidence, or capability, they are people who no longer seek to place themselves first.  The place of uttermost importance in their lives is occupied by Jesus.

And that’s something people can spot a mile away.

Has someone demonstrated that Jesus was first in their life by serving you this week?  How obvious was it?  What did it look like? Call it out here.

It would also be fun to hear how you personally spot other “Oregonians” when out of state… excluding the Bright Blue CSW coats. (TOO obvious)

Edt- This post originally appeared in July of 2011. 

9 Responses to “Like A Sore Thumb”

    • Jon July 20, 2011 at 9:40 am #

      Oh my word!

    • Mol Drew July 22, 2011 at 12:26 am #

      No more need be said. I will add my two cents.. “I tip my hat to your color full arangement. We are a skin Kalidascope.”
      Portlandnaista~ “True Oregonians. The fasionably forward foolorific followers. Individuals aware of the fact that umbrellas only keep one from enjoying the true outdoors.”
      McAmis Urban Diciontnary

  1. Josh H July 20, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    The airport part reminded me of Jerry Seinfeld’s air travel bit he does: “Tuna sandwich, $13. Tuna’s very rare here.”

    Great article though- we’re called to live a life that is very counter-cultural and so there’s a problem when we’re not sticking out.

    I’ve actually found this easier when I’m surrounded by non-Christians. I think its because I’m alert to the fact that I am representing Christ at all the times. Unfortunately I’ve seen Christians, myself included, lose this mentality when interacting with each other. But God doesn’t just want us to show love and humility to unbelievers, He wants all aspects our lives to be transformed by these things (2 Cor. 3:2). That’s a huge challenge. And living with other Christians, the temptation can sometimes be to compare myself with how ‘spiritual’ I think others are. But this post reminded me that true humility takes the focus off myself and puts in on God.
    Thanks Jon!

    • Jon July 20, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Great observations Josh, and true all the way around. It’s super easy to feel good about myself when I compare myself with others. I don’t fare as well when I compare myself to Jesus.

      “You idiot, we’re businessmen. We’ll miss our flight!”
      “Who cares!? Water!”… “I turned it on full blast!”

  2. Sharon O July 20, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Another great post.
    I love the idea of being clothed in humility.
    I wrote a post about that last year, as in when we get ready for our day could we choose which fruit of the spirit we would like to wear along with our ‘fur lined boots and sweaters?’ We take time in deciding what looks good on the outside shouldn’t we take time deciding what we need on the inside too? You always challenge me, thank you.

    • Jon July 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      Great thought Sharon! Plus Humility always goes with everything!

  3. Mol Drew July 22, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    Bussiness in the front… party in the back.
    This phrase is most often used to describe a monstrocity of a hairdue in all views. The mullet.
    However, this statement could also vividly compose a picture of the church today. We are all human and we all fall short at one point or another when it comes to representing the name of Chirst in our every day walks. We are to find ourselves meek and humble, but not just infront of your enemies or strangers, but most of all infront of the people we have to most influence on.
    It is easy to let our gaurds down and at some level we should. God has a sense of humor, other wise the mullet would not exsist… neither would the plattipus, nor a talking donkey. We are sons and daughters of the most High and as a result we are to bask in His glory and let it rain down upon us.
    Christianity is a relationship not a religions. So like any true bond between objects there is a ripple effect. This does not correlate to just physics or trends or your BO or BFF. It stretches much deeper than that. Intamacy is perversed in our current society. But it applies to so much more than just every sexual inuendos which I would describe as the opposite of intimate. Unconditional altruistic agape is what one needs to clothe themselves with daily. And of course a part of that is humility. Thank you Jon Furmanorific… you have taught me and others well. :)

  4. Mol Drew July 22, 2011 at 1:02 am #

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