Tony Jones is pastor at the First Baptist Church of Rich Hill, MO. He blogs at http://thespiritualwoodshed.com/.
I attended a conference a few months ago and one of the speakers said, “We need to quit being so weird.” The remark, to be fair, sounded like a throw away line, but there was a glint of truth behind it. The speaker never did define what he considered weird (he did give one situational example) and I was left pondering the meaning of the word weird and what it had to do with Christianity.
We have been told to look different than the culture. It’s even biblical in Romans 12, “be not conformed to this world….” And some of us have been warned that a lifestyle of non conformity will look weird. There’s that word again, weird.
Let’s define weird shall we? The kid with pink hair looks weird, or so most of our fathers would say. The person pierced so many times that they “look like they fell head long into a tackle box” (cue uncomfortable congregational laughter, and by the way, if I hear that line one more time I will scream. Pastor, please pick up a new joke book at Lifeway, they are usually sold on the bargain rack, so cost shouldn’t be an option) looks weird. These are both examples of people who physically look different than the majority of society. Does that mean Christians can’t have pink hair or piercings? I am about to say something that will make some folks quit reading. It is OK for Christians to have pink hair and piercings.
There are those who look physically weird but what about spiritually weird. I’d like to make a few observations. Is it weird for a Christian couple to fight before they head to church and then act like everything is just peachy the minute they step into the worship service? Is it odd for a pastor to have two personalities, one for the pulpit and for the rest of the week? Is it OK for us to rail against homosexuality while three cohabitating couples sit un-convicted Sunday after Sunday in their padded pews? Is it just a tad bit strange for us to profess to worship the God of Psalm 145, the God who has done mighty works and marvelous acts, on Sunday mornings yet worship the God of the American Dream Monday through Saturday? I think all of it is weird and unsettling.
Do we think the world is not watching? Do we think they turn a blind eye to all of our weird machinations? The sad truth is, they do not. They notice and have been noticing for decades. They see us crusading against society’s ills but unable to deal with sin in our own lives. They see us vacillate between church face and rest-of-the-week faces as easily as we change clothes. They notice how we treat our wives and children when we think no one is looking. They notice and they think that’s weird. After careful consideration, I think it’s weird too.
The consistent lifestyle in constant pursuit of holiness is the hardest thing a Christian will ever strive for. We will be different from the world, and we will stand out. Some might even call us weird, but that’s a good thing because the coming generations will see our genuine faith and be drawn to it.
We do need to quit being so weird. If you’re cranky when you get to church, that’s OK; maybe the ministry of the body of Christ will make you un-cranky. If you’re going to crusade against a particular sin, why not crusade against all sin, starting with yourself, and please, please, please, be yourself. I agree with the speaker from the conference, we need to stop being so weird.