Monday, February 19, 2007


While all the multitasking bloggers were typing the live blogs at the ID Conference in Jackson, I was making notes of ideas. Dad always said to use all the brains I had, and all I could borrow, so I'm usually on the lookout for ideas I can steal.

Let me put it this way: I have ELEVEN pages of ideas I want to write about. I figure, all in, I got about 15 cents apiece in them. BIG bargain. But the idea I want to wax warm about, now, has nothing to do with that. It was an offshoot of my previously-referred-to session of vegging in the hotel and going a few rounds with C.B. and Alan Cross. Here's what happened:

I made the remark that being around them, and the other bloggers, kept me on my toes. That's a GoodThing. But there was also the subtle influence that being around folks who respect you makes you want to be a better person.

Well, it makes you want to at least put on a good front. But if you're sincere, it'll actually make you want to be a better person.

I experience that with my Sunday School class. When I began teaching the class on a permanent basis, I tried to put my best foot forward. But then, as I grew to love them, I knew that couldn't be a "front". I knew I had to be what I was trying to represent to them, that I was. Suddenly I wanted to be that person.

Dads experience that sort of thing, in an inverse sort of way. If you have a good relationship with your kids, they'll think you're this perfect person who can fix anything. In that case, of course, you know the day is coming when they'll discover you're really human and cannot always fix their broken toys. That starts "role reversal" in which they see you as more and more human, as the stumbling blocks of age become more frequent, and ends with the child becoming the parent, and sometimes the provider, for their biological parent. It's painful, but it's necessary, and you'd best understand it before it overtakes you.

In the case of my SS class, they started out knowing I'm human, and the respect they showed then has grown as we've experience spiritual growth together. And I think they love me, too, as I do them. And that makes me want to be what they think and hope that I am. That I'm really how they see me to be.

That's a staggering thought, and a role we cannot possibly fill without the renewal of the mind and the newly-created clean heart, both of which only God can do.

On the way home this afternoon, driving alone, it struck me that this is exactly what God wants of me, but not just what my kids or my wife or my SS class thinks me to be. Not just what they expect of me. No, what I need to be is what the world needs to see in me. Put another way:

I want to be
What the world needs to see

I've resented, for some time, the thought that we ought to "show forth" this or that. What we do and who we are shouldn't be based on any effort to put forth an image, to appear to be a certain thing, or to establish a particular reputation. Jesus never did anything of the sort. He simply WAS Who He was. Period. In God's plan, He needed to be just that. And He was.

That's how it should always be, for us. So spend some time around some folks who respect you, and be reminded that you should be what they believe you to be.

They may never know the difference, but God does.


At 5:15 AM, February 21, 2007, Blogger CB Scott said...

Wow, Bob.


At 9:12 AM, February 21, 2007, Blogger Alycelee said...

That's great and I think I gotcha!

Rather than attempting to 'be' godly, reflect the light that is already there, 'let Him shine forth'
Not of ourselves, least we boast.
When I ponder the scriptures that confirm your post-well I could preach and we know how scary that would be :)

Great commentary Bob, thanks

At 10:22 AM, February 21, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Alyce: I think it was Oswald Chambers who said that the beatitudes (and the various manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit displayed in scripture) are not actions and attitudes to be emulated or striven for. A trained ape can do THAT. Rather, they're evidences that the Holy Spirit is having His way with us.

I think you do got me, Alyce.

CB: That's exactly what I thought when God dumped that idea into my soul, you silver-tongued dude, you.

At 9:52 AM, February 22, 2007, Blogger Chandra said...

Bob, sometimes the things you write about are so far above me I can't really digest it, but this really spoke to me (as a mom and one of your students!). I know we should do the right things and be the person God desires us to be all the time purely because it glorifies God. Because of my sin nature, I continually struggle and God knew that I would. He has sent people in my life to challenge me and to remind me to continue to strive to live that kind of life that would be pleasing to him. I think those relationships are a precious gift and like "alycelee" quoted not of ourselves, lest we boast.

At 10:12 AM, February 22, 2007, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...


Mark it down: one of these days, a young person in whose life you've had some influence, will say something to you like your comment here. Then, you will know how much your comment means to me. Thank you so much.

Note that the important thing to God, IMO, is that you want to be the kind of person He wants you to be. That's why He helps (MO, again).

Next time I post something that you feel you can't digest, well, you know where I live, my phone number, etc. I'll be happy to 'splain, any time.

God bless. I sure do miss you in class, but that's more than offset by the knowledge that we've sent another guerilla warrior out into battle. Check here for details as to just how important your activities are.

God bless.

At 1:56 PM, February 23, 2007, Blogger Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Bob,

I'm sorry to see you've been hanging out with such bad influences!

You are quite right that in rare moments of genuine Christian reflection, we aspire not only to appear more Christlike, but actually to be so.

Love in Christ,



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home