The Him Line

bill-cunningham-citra-embedFashion is not my forte, and I’m certainly not the model image of a fashion model from GQ.  I do, however, know enough about fashion to know that Bill Cunningham, the legendary photojournalist for The New York Times, died on Saturday.

Cintra Wilson paid tribute to Cunningham in a timely article in GQ when she described the white-haired octogenarian on a Schwinn bike as a man who, “seemed to have a kind of quantum-mechanical ability to suddenly be at any location in New York City where an act of fashion was being committed, and to witness it at any point in the space-time continuum. His camera was the all-seeing eye of New York City fashion; his documenting of the infinite variations of city fashion were as close to something like omniscience as a mortal with a camera can get.”bill-cunningham-citra-embed-2

Cunningham’s sharp eye captured the rise and fall of fashion’s hem line for nearly 40 years, and he’ll be remembered in part for the him- line that was his life motto: “If beauty is what you seek, you will find it every day.

The essence of Cunningham was captured by Jacob Bernstein: “He wanted to find subjects, not be the subject. He wanted to observe, not be observed.”

Even though He might be out of fashion with some, I still see immense beauty in the Him-Lines of another person; I see it, in these words of Jesus:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ~Matthew 5

Blending In and Standing Out

panther_chameleon_yurimaru_2A recent article in Nature Communication reported on the unique ability of chameleons to adapt to their surroundings by changing their colors.  The article stated:  “Many chameleons, and panther chameleons in particular, have the remarkable ability to exhibit complex and rapid color changes during social interactions such as male contests or courtship.”

While most people are familiar with chameleons, researchers have discovered something new about this colorful lizard.  The ability of chameleons to change color is more than just manipulating their pigmentation.   They change color by actively tuning the positions of light-reflecting guanine nanocrystal cells that are embedded in their skin.

When I read this article, I thought:  “This is exactly what Paul did throughout his ministry.”  Chameleons change color to adapt to their surrounding and to benefit them in their social interactions, but this change doesn’t alter their basic constitution—they remain lizards.

Paul adapted his methods, but he never changed his message.  He emphasized different distinctives of the Gospel, so he could proclaim certain principles to specific segments of society.

Notice how The Message describes the chameleon ministry of Paul:

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it (I Corinthian 9:19-23)!”

By laying aside all pretense and pride, Paul was able to reach people for Christ.  Read it again: “I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.”

Paul laid his life on the line, so people could align their life with God:

“You know that from day one of my arrival in Asia I was with you totally—laying my life on the line, serving the Master no matter what, putting up with no end of scheming by Jews who wanted to do me in. I didn’t skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and encouragement that could have made a difference to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus (Acts 20).”  ~The Message

Are you willing to blend in, so you can stand out for the sake of the Gospel? Will you  “discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12)?”