Understanding the Odd Christian

I’m an odd Christian. But then again, I believe that every true Christian is odd. Christians are definitely in the minority in the world, as well as in the U.S., and these days there is much less social pressure to act like a Christian if one’s heart isn’t really dedicated to Christ.

Maybe you’re one of these odd Christians. Or maybe you live with one in your family, or work with one, or have one as a friend. You might even like them, but you still have to admit they are odd. They believe this ancient book called the Bible, and they read it and study it–not because they have to, but because they want to. They also want to pray to God, not just in times of trouble, but when things are perfectly fine. And they go off to a church meeting when most of the non-working world is having a leisurely Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Christians can sometimes forget their oddness, especially when a bunch of them get together. I live in Louisville, Kentucky, home of Southeast Christian Church, one of the largest churches in the United States. Their main campus can seat over 9,000 people for a worship service. I can easily feel like I’m in the majority if I am standing in a crowd of thousands at Southeast, or even in a crowd of hundreds at Hurstbourne Baptist (my own church down the street). But here’s the reality: for every ten people in my city, only one or two seek out a Christian gathering on any given weekend. With less social pressure to attend church, many of those who once might have gathered at a church function are gathering in other ways, or simply staying home. And if weekly church attendance is odd, even when there are plenty of church options and virtually no church persecution, then it must be particularly odd to believe that one should follow Jesus every day.

It’s true that odd Christians sometimes become obnoxious about their oddness. They’ll react badly when others disagree with their worldview or dismiss their cherished beliefs. Sometimes they haven’t even fully realized or accepted that they are odd. If so, then this obnoxiousness is usually just a phase, as they wrestle with the real differences between themselves and the rest of the world. But a few get stuck in that phase and never seem to get out of it; so they spend their life stiff-arming people who aren’t Christian.

Most odd Christians do try to fit in with normal people, although their motivation may stem from very different reasons. For example, they might try to fit in with normal people because they naturally crave approval. If they are too concerned with what people think of them, then the Christian may try to hide their oddness around their non-believing family or friends. This unfortunately sets the stage for hypocritical behavior, where they act one way at church, another way at home, another way at work, and another way when out on the town. The odd Christian who adopts that approach is generally miserable because they know God isn’t pleased with such behavior, and as time goes on they will find it increasingly difficult to keep their Christian and non-Christian spheres from clashing with each other and raising havoc.

But there’s another more healthy reason for the odd Christian to fit in, and that’s because they love normal people. They know they are an odd Christian, but they identify deeply with their non-Christian counterparts, and they would like nothing better than for their non-believing family or friends to meet Jesus. So they’ll try to let their oddness show in positive, life-giving ways, and avoid being oddly abrasive, judgmental, or condescending. They want people to realize something truly wonderful is at the heart of their oddness.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.” –Jesus (Matthew 13:44-45 CSB)

After all, why would someone want to be a follower of Christ when most of the world thinks Christians are odd? And why would someone even want others to experience that same oddness? If Christians must resign themselves to a life of oddness, then what’s the appeal in following Christ?

Simply this: once you’ve gotten a taste of God, realized he is truly good, and experienced total reconciliation with him through Jesus, you can’t beat it. I haven’t found anything in this life that can compete. It’s like there is this place at the core of my soul where there is peace, comfort, honesty, forgiveness, fulfillment, happiness, and love. God dwells in that place, and he keeps inviting me to know him more. If I were a better man, I’d stay close to him all the time, and I’d seldom be tempted with lesser things. But simply knowing God’s always with me is more than I ever deserve, and that’s definitely worth being an odd Christian.

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