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Christians can be compelled to speak with fluency the true and beautiful gospel to those for whom God is most likely dead, but in the novelist Julian Barnes's words, "miss him" nonetheless.

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May your lives reflect this beautiful sacrifice, and the aroma of Christ, the "grace remains" of her act: may what she has done be told "wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world".

The Beauty of Broken People

Beautiful Orthodoxy doesn't necessarily feel beautiful from the start. Sometimes it feels awkward—like a series of clumsy conversations over time that present a godly perspective, discrediting what the world would have us believe. But through those awkward conversations, one of my most treasured friendships developed.

At first I didn't want to introduce myself to my new neighbor. Quite honestly, she scared the wits out of me. This woman towered over me and had a "tell it like it is" attitude with speeches laced with cuss words.

But Scripture doesn't say, "Love all your neighbors, except for the ones who freak you out." It simply says, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). For me, that meant literally walking across the street and ringing a doorbell.

Our initial conversation revolved around our then-infant sons and led to a mothering camaraderie. And that camaraderie led to a friendship. And that friendship pointed to Jesus.

Our histories could not have been more different. While I was attending Christian youth events in high school, she was drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. But somehow I was drawn to her, and she was drawn to me. In bits and pieces between non-threatening talk of diaper rash and infant sleep patterns, I fumbled through sharing the gospel of Jesus and my commitment to him. Though I thought my faith would put her off, it didn't. Instead it led to vulnerability. She invited me into some hard places even as she feared my knowledge of her life would lead to rejection. But what it led to instead was love.

"Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets," C. S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity. "When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him."

That is exactly what happened with my neighbor Autumn.

I had the opportunity to show her how to find a chapter and verse in the Bible, but over and over again, God used her to encourage me in my faith and to remind me that when we act on his truth, he makes beautiful things.

That's a picture of Beautiful Orthodoxy: an unlikely friendship all wrapped up in truth and love.