Tuesday, 02 December 2008
Guest post by lifeofdory
I've been called many things... and most of them usually center on "weird" or "odd." The only times I've ever been called "cool" have been by un-cool little kids who think that it's cool when grown-ups act silly in front of large groups of people.
I don't mind being weird. God's people are "set-apart;" as a Christ-follower, I am called to be peculiar in the world. What does that look like? I'm still figuring that out. I began experimenting with non-conformity in the sixth grade. Inspired by one of my favorite characters for tween girls, I decided to intentionally wear really absurd outfits to school. One such outfit included purple leggings, a red thermal-knit shirt, bib-overall shorts, and a brightly colored scarf depicting a giant parrot. A lot of people comment on my clothing. Most told me it was ugly or that it didn't go together. I simply replied, "You only think that" or something equally scathing and disarming.
I have since given up being strange for its own sake. But I still desire to be peculiar for Jesus. In the early days of the church, believers formed little enclaves of strangeness. They lived their lives in stark contrast to the world around them. People quit their jobs as soldiers and guards when they accept the gospel of Christ. People sold everything they owned. This was very odd in the militaristic, materialistic Roman Empire.
Then something happened. Rome adopted Christianity. It became "mainstream" to be a Christian, and the little peculiarities disappeared (except in places like monasteries, abbeys, and convents). The gospel lost some of its power because it wasn't preached in a way that offered something different from the world. Christians were in the military. Believers were carrying swords, accumulating wealth, and living individualistic lives.
The peculiarity of living a Christ-like life exists in little pockets of an otherwise imperialistic Christianity. And I've found that this strange way of life can make some other Christians uncomfortable. In American Christianity's attempt to be relevant, it too has abandoned its call to be peculiar. Too many churches offer the same thing as the world, just in a different "Jesus wrapper." Churches support war and tell you how to build your best life now, instead of announcing that Jesus calls us out of empire into a unique relationship with those around us. Somehow, we've decided that ballot measures and praise bands are more important that genuine interactions with hurting people in need of something different than the world can offer.
Do you consider yourself to stand out, or be set apart, as a Christ-follower?