Becky Pippert – Oneness Outside the Saltshaker
By Bill MacLeod
She is known as the author of the book with the catchy title: “Out of the Saltshaker”, but Rebecca Manley Pippert did not start out life immersed in cultural Christianity! Quite the contrary, she discovered Jesus almost by accident. She has been discovering Him ever since as her observations, writings, and speaking engagements have led her around the globe encouraging believers to experience the Living Christ all around us, engaging a world that exists outside the realm of faith. I am so glad to have her voice as a plenary speaker this January! Curious to learn about her perspective on the Oneness of the Body of Christ led us to get better acquainted through this recent interview. Perhaps, as I did, you will find some similarities in your own faith journey…
Bill: When were you first aware of God working in your life? What age were you and what were the circumstances?
Becky: I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I would have described myself as a wistful agnostic. I sensed something was missing: a longing I couldn’t name, an ache for something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I hoped there was a God, but I had lots of unanswered questions.
In my search for meaning I explored other religions and other philosophies. Everything I read left me unsatisfied. Yet I had never investigated Christianity, nor read one page of the Bible, because I assumed that having been raised in North America, I already understood it.
Then I read two books that changed my life. The first was the novel, The Fall, by Albert Camus, a French atheist existentialist who convinced me that I was a sinner. That may sound an odd conclusion to draw from reading an atheist author, but his unflinching analysis of the human heart was so devastating that it erased any possibility of my becoming an optimistic humanist! Yet Camus had no answers to explain the good we do see.
I then came across a book by C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. Lewis introduced me to the landscape of Christianity, and he sparked my interest in the Bible. I began reading the Gospels and found myself captivated by Jesus. Ultimately, I surrendered and committed my life to Jesus Christ right before I went to University — to my parent’s deep shock! But by God’s tremendous grace, one by one every member of my family became followers of Jesus. But it took a while!
Bill: What did the Lord use in your life primarily to call you into the ministry you lead now?
Becky: Because I wasn’t raised in faith, I had a real sensitivity about how Christians talked about faith to skeptics. I found myself offended by some of the approaches I saw very well-meaning Christians use. So, I began looking at how Jesus talked about faith. I was struck by his tremendous compassion and love for people – how he showed respect by listening carefully to people – and roused their curiosity in faith by asking brilliant questions. He treated no one as an evangelistic project yet he shared the gospel with great creativity. I started to put all that into practice myself. Then after getting my M.A. in English, I was invited to become the InterVarsity staff worker at Reed College! (and Whitman and Willamette). I began teaching the students how to put the Jesus Way of Witness into practice – and oh my, the fruit we saw!
Bill: What has touched you the most about being “One in Christ Jesus” (from Gal 3:28) as you have grown in your walk with Him and carried out your ministry?
Becky: That Jesus was willing to become human, while still remaining divine – for us and for all salvation. Imagine it! Jesus actually showed us what it means to be truly human. He demonstrated that we must not be ashamed of our inadequacy and human limitations – because we’ve been created to be God-dependent – not self-sufficient. What a difference that makes in life and witness! To know that God is delighted to use us just as we are – with the questions we can’t answer – with our fears – with our weaknesses. We just need to remember what the Lord said to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect through your weakness.” So, as I’ve learned to abide in Christ and to consciously practice his presence throughout the day – it’s made all the difference.
Bill: As you consider Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 12:12-27 about the “one-ness” of the Body of Christ, how do you see this truth playing out as you fulfill your ministry?
Becky: Without question my experience of the ‘one-ness’ of the Body of Christ has been God’s great gift of allowing my husband and me to minister round the world: throughout the Global South and recently living for 7 years in Europe – which is considered the most resistant continent on the planet to the gospel. We have learned so much from Christians worldwide and have been so humbled to see their sacrifice and commitment to Christ.
Bill: What would you desire attendees at Mission ConneXion Northwest 2020 come away with as a result of your participation and expression?
Becky: My prayer, above all else, is that all of us would fall hopelessly in love with Jesus in a whole new way.