One of the most powerful forces in the world - a force that the Church has battled for centuries - is once again rearing its head. It is called the status quo.
We all more or less desire to fit in as decent members of society. We want to be respected, or, at the very least, accepted. We fear the whispered suspicions of lunacy which the world circulates so readily about anyone who actually seems to believe in something.
However, as Christians we tend to forget that being strange is an inevitable consequence of being holy - holiness being very much a minority pursuit as far as the general public is concerned. Jesus was constantly being accused of demon-possession or outright insanity. Everything about Him - His message, His bearing, His actions - was socially abrasive and culturally inexplicable.
Being light means we will shatter the world's darkness. Being salt means we will sting the world's wounds. This assignment to catalyze change and healing demands courage, vision, and a healthy detachment from our social reputation. This is a perspective that must be adopted by the Church as a whole - not a select few who are "called to evangelism." The Great Commission is universal, and pretty well precludes any possibility of retaining our coveted sense of normality.
The temptation - once you realize that you are incapable of "fitting in" - is to hide. We are forever introducing barriers between ourselves and the culture to diffuse the embarrassing glare of Godliness. It's time to stop operating our Christianity on a dimmer switch. Let the culture say what it will about us, but let it not say that we are trite and timid.
Assimilation always leads to neutralization, neutralization always leads to impotence, and impotence always leads to irrelevance. It is all well and good to talk about learning to be "all things to all men," but it must be remembered that the whole point of this strategy is to rescue and restore. It does little good to jump down into a hole just to "identify" with a desperate man who is trying to get out. "All things to all men" does not mean you share every detail of his experience - it means that you throw him a rope.
We must be willing to renounce and repent of our conformity, as God convicts us, and to cherish our unique calling to shine like stars in a crooked and perverse generation. The just shall live by faith, not fashion.
"If we can reach / beyond the wisdom of this age / into the foolishness of God / that foolishness will save / those who believe / although their foolish hearts may break / they will find peace / and I'll meet you in that place / where mercy leads" (- Rich Mullins)
Embrace the weirdness.
Image courtesy of hdsa.org