I remember playing volleyball at a high school/college youth night. At my turn to serve, I yelled across the net, “Alright, pass me the ball.”
The teenager across from me was doing back flips and bouncing the ball off his head. Apparently he’d just created a game that involved passing me the ball, but only on his terms.
“Um, OK. Can you pass me the ball?” More flips and cartwheels. “Dude, it’s a good thing you’re home-schooled,” I laughed, “Because one day of that on the playground, and you’d have more bruises than fingers.”
This kid was weird. I mean super weird, and I joked with friends that this kid had the social skills of a cabbage (no offense to cabbages). And while this kid could have definitely benefited from some additional human interaction, after talking with him afterward, he turned out to be a smart dude, much smarter than I was, and tremendously focused on the Lord’s direction in his life. I realized my error in judging him so quickly, and I realized it was OK to be “weird,” because God calls us to be weird.
Throughout the Bible, God tells us to be different. He calls us not to think the same, act the same, even dress or speak the same. God calls us “a chosen race … a holy nation … a people for his own possession…” The King James uses the phrase “a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9). God doesn’t mince words. We’re different, and we’re called to be that way.
Yes, Christians are weird. And that’s a good thing.
I realized my version of “weird” was based on a preconception. How many of us do the same thing, making an assessment based on the way we’re “supposed” to look, act, speak or behave? It’s normal to want to fit in. But standing out shouldn’t make us uncomfortable; it should make us feel unique. Often times it may even make friends and colleagues respect us more.
When asked to introduce myself during the first session of a college class, I said, “My name’s Steve, and I love Jesus and the Beatles.” (Because seriously, what a combo). Relaying to a friend later, he couldn’t believe I’d said I love Jesus in front of the class, but there was never a moment where I’d thought to be ashamed of it (Romans 1:16). Later a classmate mentioned how much she’d appreciated me speaking up. It wasn’t weird to her either; she just didn’t yet have the courage to say so herself.
People tend to want to fit in, and they’ll do almost anything to avoid standing out. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once joked that more people would rather be in the casket than standing up giving the eulogy. But the kid doing jumping jacks on his head didn’t think what he was doing was so strange. He’d been taught to express himself, to be energetic and not go along with how everyone else believed he should act.
In the same way, I didn’t think making a public declaration of my faith was strange. The world may have conditioned people to be uncomfortable with it, but it seemed perfectly normal to me. How often do we feel “weird” about explaining our faith to strangers or feel out of place when asked how we came to know the Lord? How often do we see movies, television or music make jokes about our faith and shy away from saying what we really believe?
God isn’t concerned with what’s “normal.”
The God of the Bible isn’t interested in how well we fit in, how well we’re liked, or whether or not people think we’re normal. Instead, we’re called to think, speak and act differently. God says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Just as God tells us not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) we should never feel like we’re forced to bend to how the world tells us to act when it comes to living or advocating for our faith. You may even find that your example gives others strength to draw from.
The next time you feel out of place or ask yourself why it can be difficult to be the “weird” Christian that other people might make jokes at, remember that you may be setting the example for someone else to follow. You may be giving them the confidence to realize there’s nothing out of place about living as an example for Jesus Christ. Because, yes, being a Christian definitely is weird, and that’s a good thing.
Are there things that make you feel weird, peculiar or out of place when it comes to your faith? Are there times when you wish you could just be like everyone else?
Copyright 2014 Steve Bierfeldt. All rights reserved.