"You think people don't like you because you love Jesus. Maybe people don't like you because you're socially weird inside that tiny, little, Christian bubble." – Francis Chan
I remember a sermon I heard as a Jr. Higher that the teacher kept telling us, "As Christians, we are to be different, but not odd." He meant that we do live differently but it doesn't mean we are odd or weird.
I knew what he meant then and it still connects with me. But the reality is, if we truly follow Jesus, we will be viewed as weird and odd by many, but certainly we will be viewed as different by all.
What is normal about:
- Fighting lust?
- Giving away a lot of money?
- Meeting weekly with small groups of people to challenge and encourage each other?
- Treating those well who mistreat us?
So – yes – we are different, and therefore likely considered odd by many. But the constant challenge is to not add to our "oddness" by adding things to the Gospel or by being wholly committed to things that aren't commanded by God.
Tim Keller says it this way:
If some aspect of a new culture does not compromise the gospel itself and makes you more accessible to others, there is no reason not to adapt to that element out of courtesy and love – even if it is not your preference. Otherwise, the gospel may, because of you, appear “unnecessarily alien.” We must avoid turning off listeners because we are culturally offensive rather than the gospel…Proper contextualization [of the gospel] means causing the right scandal – the on the gospel poses to all sinners – and removing all unnecessary ones. (Center Church, 111)
In other words, we must be sure not to turn our preferences into the definition of the Christian life. You have a preference on schooling your children? Great! Just don't make it a definition of Christianity (what ALL Christians do). Have an opinion on vaccinating your children or eating a certain diet? Great! But if it is what you are most known for by others – it likely has an elevated place in your life that is distracting from what is most important in reaching others. It is the same with political views and music preferences.
We must be careful to distinguish between our preferences and the actions biblically expected of every Christian. And I've discovered most Christians struggle to draw that line. And when we struggle to draw that line, people stumble over Jesus because of us.
What stumbling blocks do you see people adding to the Gospel?