Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Ephesians 5:1 NLT
The overhead loudspeaker crackled to life. A familiar voice announced a page for an individual.
“Mr. So-and-So please call blah-blah-blah-blah.” There was hardly a pause, “Mr. So-and-So please call blah-blah-blah-blah.” I had no idea to whom Mr. So-and-So was referring and despite the familiarity of the voice, I had no idea what the speaker looked like. The overhead loudspeaker went silent and the familiar matter-of-fact voice of my coworker standing behind me spoke.
“Ruth-Ann’s been in Alabama longer’n I’ve been alive but she refuses to acclimate to the accent. She still talks like she’s in the north.”
I literally burst out laughing and spit out the water I had just taken a sip of. I snorted and turned around.
I knew exactly what he was talking about. I had never actually knowingly laid eyes on Ruth-Ann. I do not know her state of origin, her last name, if she wears glasses or not. If I had to pick her out of lineup I’d have to be blindfolded because I only know her voice; she has a distinct accent, not at all like my own. She sounds, well … northern.
As I pondered on the statement, I thought about the acclimation that takes place when we inhabit a place for any length of time. How we take on the accent of those around us, words and phrases of the speakers. Case in point, I watch a lot of British TV and find myself saying the following:
“That’s Brilliant!” Instead of “That’s great!”
“Queue” instead of “Line.”
“Rubbish” instead of “garbage.”
“Bin” instead of “trash can” and “tin” instead of “can.”
Without even knowing it I’ve acclimated to the television vocabulary. I’ve become like a verbal chameleon, speaking like those I have heard.
As I thought about Ruth Ann (if that actually is her name, I have no idea) and her apparent refusal to acclimate to the Southern-speakers around her, I found myself challenged.
This world is not my home, yet there are times you would never know that, not based on my behavior anyway. I look so much that the world and so little like Christ that others can not distinguish the difference residing in me. I walk around so defeated and beat down you’d never know I possessed the joy of the Lord. Perhaps I should live more like Ruth-Ann, with such intention as to not look so much like the world around me and more like the unique me I have been created to be.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:2 MSG