Friday, October 20, 2006
A Home for Jesus' Oddballs
There is great pressure on human beings to conform. Even those who take pride in their tattooed and baggy non-conformance are conforming with someone else's idea of non-conformance.
How do you balance your desire to be accepted with your desire to be yourself? From the moments I first remember I've never managed to be a part of anything, and I saw those around me prostrate themselves trying to be accepted. I decided I'd made the better bargain. Oddballs get used to loneliness.
Jesus calls us to community. The road to community might take some divagations from the expected mean, though, and how do you square that with churches' insistence on the straight and narrow?
God has demonstrated great creativity in how people work. He gives everyone different gifts and the pattern of gifts is unique to each person. Our society tends to reduce these gifts to neatly definable characteristics, and you are put in a niche bound up with words so that you fit nicely. It's no wonder that people rebel.
The rebellion is doomed to failure because the human heart just isn't strong enough to make it alone. What people don't see, what they can't see because of how Christians have presented him, is that God is living with us, breathing with us, breathing on us. His breath brings an unpredictable life to the walking dead who've been buried in sin so long that they, like me, don't recognize life when it's presented on a silver platter held in Jesus' blood-stained hand. It takes time to learn this and in our hurry-up world Christians are expected to grow like hot house flowers. Gaudy, brilliant, short-lived.
Any real plant is more root than plant for most of its life. God is the master of root regrowth. I don't know how to encourage this kind of growth. What class can teach it? Oddballs get even more odd as they follow God's light down into the roots, where he works at removing the dead and dry ones so he can replace them with new, lovingly grown under his own personal protection. Junkyard Dogs of judgment, such as Lu and I have, eventually learn to respect God's care, if we're given the time needed to recognize them and learn to deal with them.
God loves oddballs. Jesus wasn't exactly a conformer. Churches and other groups of Christians should be out there on the edge, defining the direction of society, instead of bringing up the rear with their "cultural relevance" and "multiculturalism." The question is how to do it. I have no idea but I have the strong impression that I'm going to learn. By example.