There was an album that came out in the 90’s called, “Welcome to the Freak Show.” I think it was a live album of an obscure Christian band. Sorry to get off point there for a second. . . Anyway, I know that in church culture we have made it theological and even liturgical to be “peculiar.” What this has caused is a systematic rejection of christians, and we have told ourselves that this is GOOD!
I already hear the comments; that we are supposed to stand out, that we are called to sacrifice, that we are “wired to be weird.” I am not in disagreement that we need to stand out. What we need to be asking ourselves is what characteristics cause us to stand out? Is it because we write off our poverty as trusting the Lord, our inability to hold down a job as “just passing through this life,” our argumentative stance as standing up for the truth, or our judgmentalism justified as “discernment”?
Or is it for our massive love for people, or our working of miracles, or our words of knowledge, wisdom, and prophetic uplifting and guidance, or for our amazing ability to prosper at whatever we touch?
Well, I rambled enough about that and now I want to get back to the normal part. What I mean is why do some of us christians struggle living in the world? Why do we have a hard time with the balance of living by faith and also, as the parable of talents so evidently displays, putting our goods to good use? Trust me, this has been a struggle of mine for years. How do I take what I know I have been “called” to do and use that in the midst of what I am “gifted” to do.
There is a great teaching by Paul Manwaring available on the Bethel Atlanta Podcast in which he is talking about the gift of administration and how he sees this gift as an awakening gift in the Church. I would highly recommend it to all of us that have been told that part of our ordained peculiarity is to work only for the church. Anyway (jeesh, just can’t keep me on track!), in that awesome teaching, he states that we have made people who are in the work world and who are called to minister in the work world feel second class because we have put the “stage” at church on a pedestal. In this I realized that there has been a rejection of what was truly meant as “in the World but not of the World.”
In all of this, I realized that we are entering a new era in what christians “look” like and how we are accepted into the World and systems via our ability to succeed while maintaining a life of purity, love, genuine devotion to God, and our vision. Funny that, more than 20 years since my first sermon ever called, “what does a christian really look like,” that this is being revisited. Just like Joseph, we might be required to wear Egyptian’s clothing, or like Daniel, speak with the words of the Babylonians, or even like Paul use to our advantage our national citizenship in order to complete our race. But just like in the times of Joseph, Daniel, and Paul, we are in an era that needs and is longing for someone who just looks “normal” to bring words of amazing wisdom, direction, success, and yes, healing.
So my final question is this: Are you purposefully isolating yourself from a world that desperately needs what you have in the name of religion (read: me too) simply because your relationship with God is dependent on how you portray yourself rather than the condition of your heart?
I believe it is time for a new wake up call. It is time for a new “normalcy!”