It wasn’t the title that bothered me. It wasn’t even the appearance of the book – its yellow-ness is quite appealing. And, since I’m always looking for ways to “rethink” topics and positions within my relationship with Jesus and within the church as a whole, it wasn’t the book’s bi-line (“Re-envisioning the Gap between Christ and Culture”) that caused such a stir within me.
The emotions began to flare up when I got to Chapter 7. It enraged me and, at the same time, caused me much discomfort. Read this excerpt and tell me how it makes you feel:
Every guy knows the rule.
You can talk about someone’s lack of athleticism, humor, or even intellect, but you never disrespect his girlfriend. A couple of years ago, I gave in. I broke the rule and badmouthed someone else’s girl. I was sitting in a coffee shop with a few of my buddies, and we started talking about a guy we all knew. We liked him, a lot. He was our friend. But his girl annoyed the heck out of us, and the negativity started to fly.
Ripping on this girl felt good because it helped to separate us from her. After all, nobody wants to be associated with a loser. And we were clearly associated with her. She had been part of our lives since we were kids. Most of us had even fallen in love with her at one point or another. Maybe that’s why we started throwing around the comments—we were insecure or hurt. I walked away from the coffee shop that night feeling pretty low. Although the conversation had been entertaining, I still felt convicted.
But the next week my buddies and I started to talk about our friend’s girl again. Only this time it was more intense. Mild dislike soon devolved into hatred. We started telling stories about how this girl offended us. She didn’t dress well or talk right. The music she liked was old and stuffy. But our main gripe was her looks. Put simply, she was as ugly as a dog. It was an ugliness that could be seen on the outside and the inside. Her entire look was outdated and irrelevant. She just didn’t fit in, and none of us wanted to be around her. We were ashamed to admit that we even knew her, much less that we used to hang out with her.
This went on for several months. And then it got worse. More people knew this girl than I first thought. At parties on the weekends it almost became an opening line—talking about this girl. I met more people than I can remember just by communicating my dislike for her. I had the lines memorized and my timing perfect. People howled as I told story after story about how ridiculous this girl was.
Then I ran into her guy.
I didn’t expect to see him. I just kind of bumped into him one day. As soon as I saw him, I realized how much I missed him. I didn’t even remember the last time I’d seen him. But my delight quickly changed to deep embarrassment. I could hardly even look at him.
He stood and looked me in the eye. “Why, Kary?” he asked quietly. “How could you talk about her like that?”
I could sense how much he loved her, and he could sense how much I hated her. His question bored a hole right through me. Why did I hate her so much? What had she ever done to me? Suddenly all my well-rehearsed insults and petty gripes seemed pretty trivial.
I dropped to my knees—I couldn’t help it. “Jesus,” I said to this guy, “I’m sorry I spoke about your bride, the church like that.”
Like I was saying, it enraged me. But it wasn’t the words that Kary wrote that bothered me, it was the conviction I felt from within. I, too, have talked about another man’s girl. And let’s just be honest – that’s not right.
Kary is still my friend. And he does an amazing job with this book. There are few resources that explore this “Fine Line,” so take a minute and pick up a copy of it today (click the image below).
You will be challenged. I guarantee it.
Leave your thoughts below.
Excerpt from “The Fine Line: Re-envisioning the Gap between Christ and Culture” by Kary Oberbrunner. Published by Zondervan. ISBN 0310285453. To purchase the book from Amazon, click here.