My post yesterday about Inclusivism sparked a couple of personal conversations via Instant Messenger with teenagers who were present at our Bible Study Sunday Night. (That's right - Instant Messenger. We're cutting edge down here). During one of those conversations, I was lamenting the vastness of the church's task in the future based on the changes in logic that the current culture is attempting to make acceptable. You know, the logic where yellow can be blue to you as long as you don't argue with someone else who says it's red?

At one point in the conversation, I mentioned that I thought this type of thinking was the single most important thing preventing the modern generation from embracing Christ as their Savior. The student with whom I was conversing disagreed.

"No, Chris. We don't embrace Christ because Christians are weird," he said.

Today, I'm at the seminary all day. And after observing the guys and girls walking around this campus, I'm afraid my friend was right. We are weird.

The guy sitting on my left in the computer lab has fourteen earrings in his left ear, give or take a couple. He's cooler than me, (I think he's Emerging), so I'm trying not to get caught looking at him. The tattoo on his ankle says "Servant" in Greek. It's too bad he couldn't have tattooed the entire luw paradigm on his ankle - at least that would have come in handy during a quiz.

The opposite end of the spectrum just walked in. He's carrying a stack of books a mile high, that are obviously just for effect (What class would require a paper where you would use BDAG, a commentary on Ecclesiastes, one of Howard Hendricks' books, and a Hebrew Bible among other things?). He's wearing a suit, and has the perfect evangelical combover. His glasses, I swear, are the same glasses that Chuck Swindoll wears now. He makes the rounds around the computer lab shaking hands with everyone, punctuating the silence with a huge belly laugh like he's heard Swindoll do a thousand times.

My friend was right. Christians are weird.

When the Bible alludes to the fact that this world is not our home, I don't think the application is that we should live like we're from another planet.

A real danger of living in the holy huddle is that we forget what real people are like. We forget how to start conversation with something other than "what's God doing in your life?" We don't know how to talk about life, or our faith without theological word-dropping. We aren't real. We aren't human. We're weird.

I think much of the answer lies in the fact that Americans feel the need to look to someone or something else in order to form their identity. We model our speech patterns, our dress, our habits after others we like, who are doing influential things. If Michael Jordan wears the shoes, we want to wear the shoes. If Britney Spears is wearing it, stores can't keep it on the shelves. If Will Ferrel or Napolean Dynamite says something funny, we want to say it too. We're obsessed with being someone else.

The Church is doing the same thing, only worse. Where I live, in Arlington, Texas, every church in town has had Forty Days of Purpose. What's the purpose? To be a huge church with lots of money the way Rick Warren did it. Because if Rick Warren's doing it, we want to do it too. We all want our small groups ministries to look like Willow Creek's, because they're cool and we want to be too. And if Charles Swindoll tells a good story on the radio Tuesday afternoon, three thousand pastors across America start scrambling to change their sermons so they can use the illustration Sunday and be as great a communicator as Chuck.

We're obsessed with fitting the "cool mold." But we haven't figured out that it's only cool when someone else does it. Elvis impersonators are never as cool as Elvis. They're just creepy.

Most of us learned in Sunday School as kids that God created us just the way we are. As we've grown up, our Sunday School teachers' words were proven right by the test of Scripture. Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and other books go to great lengths to describe who we are in Christ, and the gifts God has give us so that we can be uniquely used by God in His work on earth. (Operative word: uniquely).

We hear sermons all the time from 1 Corinthians 12, about how the hand shouldn't gripe because it didn't get to be the eye, or how the ear is not more important than the big toe. And those sermons are packed full of illustrations about how the janitor shouldn't harbor resentment against God because he didn't get the gifts to be the pastor. Pastors couldn't preach in dirty churches, we're told, so both are important. And those illustrations are accurate, needed, and applicable in today's society.

But when was the last time someone reminded us that the left hand shouldn't gripe because it isn't the right hand? Or that the big toe shouldn't gripe because it isn't the left toe?

Isn't that exactly what we're doing when we try to model everything God has given us after someone else? We're terrified of being unique. We're scared to death of having our own responsibility and our own sphere of influence. We don't want to be the left hand, because John MacArthur's the right hand, and he's doing such a good job we don't see ourself as useful. So we try to be more like him.

If you're right handed, have you ever tried to write with your left hand? You can do it. And people can read it. But that isn't the task your left hand was intended for, and your writing is awkward... weird... at best. But that's what we do when we decide that the gifts, talents, abilities, and ideas that God has given us aren't as good as the ones he's given to someone else. We limp along trying to use someone else's gifts and talents to make us seem more effective. In reality, it just makes us look weird.


Tony Langdon said...

One of the most insightful assessments of the "spiritually wierd", I've ever read. Although Christ may be the stone of stumbling, we don't need to throw gravel on the road there.