Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thank You, Captain Obvious

In some circles, stating the obvious can bring down more than a little derision, some of it in the form of the refrain: “Thank you, Captain Obvious.”  For instance:
  • Found on the packaging for a Rowenta iron is this warning: “Do not iron clothes on body.”  Thank you, Captain Obvious.
  • On a package of Nytol Sleep Aid: “Warning: May cause drowsiness.”  Thank you, Captain Obvious.
  • On a package of Sainsbury’s peanuts: “Warning: contains nuts.”  Say it with me… Thank you, Captain Obvious.
  • Or, this Yogi Berra classic: “You wouldn’t have won if we had beaten you.”  And the church said… Thank you, Captain Obvious.
  • Or Donald Rumsfeld’s astute observation that Osama bin Laden “is either alive and well, or alive and not well, or not alive.”  Let the neighbors hear it!... Thank you, Captain Obvious.
  • Oh, just one more.  From Australian politician Keppel Enderbery: “Traditionally, most of Australia’s imports come from overseas.”  Yes, indeed… Thank you, Captain Obvious.
At the risk of being Captain Obvious, I believe the world is in need of people of faith who can clearly state the obvious.  As I write this, we are just one day past Valentine’s Day; a day in which even people like myself who have been married for 33+ years must state the obvious to their spouse: I love you more today than ever.  The response to which is definitely NOT, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.”

Yet, there are many around us each day needing to hear what people of faith might consider so obvious that, outside our worship services, we never actually say them.  Here’s one: God is love (1 John 4:8).  In a world where some people of faith picket funerals of soldiers and others justify violence, this may not be stating the obvious.  Here’s another: Nothing – not hardship, distress or even death – separates us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).  In a world where some leave the church because they’ve somehow been lead to believe that only good things should happen to believers in this world and that God’s love for us is directly proportional to what happens to us, this teaching is far from obvious. 

In a small group I lead that meets at Starbucks, this question was asked: “What is it about God that keeps you coming back for more?”  That question is much like a quad-espresso…it will keep you up at night.  There are obvious answers.  God loves us…is usually the first one.  But you are one follow-up question from some deep reflection.  How do you know God loves us?  What does God’s love feel like?  What difference does it make to acknowledge God’s love?  All of a sudden you’re in a place where there are no obvious answers.  Maybe the fact that some of these “obvious” statements and questions lead so quickly to the far-from-obvious is why so many of us believers rarely ask or state them.

How ‘bout it?  Let’s risk someone telling us, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.”  Share with someone this week that God is love and take the chance they might have a follow-up question that will lead you in deeper relationship with them and with God.

Oh, and by the way, What IS it about God that keeps you coming back for more?

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