August, 2017

         I have preached and written about it before, but I think I need to say it again, spell it out again. Spell out what? Spell out what we are to be as believers and what we are to be is simply this: oddballs. Rather peculiar people. Different.

         Like it or not, that is how Scripture describes those who believe in God and follow the way of Christ. We are to be holy, God’s holy people, and in Scripture holy means to be peculiar, different. So… we are to be God’s oddballs, God’s peculiar, different people.

         But different from what? Different from the surrounding culture. But different in what way? Different in terms of how we see things, what we value, how we treat others, what we think and want and feel and will. That’s what makes us oddballs.

         In a culture that values consuming and getting and having above all else, we are to value serving and giving and forgetting ourselves for the sake of Christ and the other. In a culture that prizes success, we are to prize significance. In a culture that promotes fear and suspicion of others and division between people, we are to live with faith and proclaim the love and grace of God that opens us to others and builds up oneness. In a culture in which cruelty and ungraciousness and harshness rule the day, we are to be merciful and gracious and kind. In a culture in which despair often reigns we are to live with hope and joy in the power of the Risen Christ.

         To put it another way, we are to march to the beat of a different drum. We are to march to the beat of Christ and the Gospel , and trust me, to do that will mean being a real oddball! Because to take Christ and the Gospel seriously is to have your world turned upside down and to see things in a new way. And it can mean being a very different kind of Christian in our culture.

         In America Christianity has become a very self-serving enterprise. The purpose of God, Christ, the Spirit and the church, it seems, has become one of serving ME - to give ME what I want, to save ME, to make ME feel really good about MYSELF, to serve MY needs. And with all the emphasis on ME, the very ones Christ served and set us free to serve are ignored or forgotten: the poor, the suffering, the ill, the outcasts, the homeless, the empty ones and lonely ones. And equally sad is the fact that many Christians are becoming more like those Christ opposed than like Christ himself: becoming self righteous, judgmental, legalistic. In truth, American Christianity has become so aligned with cultural values and political views that people really don’t expect Christians to have a different perspective, let alone odd or unpopular views about war or justice or social issues.

         But we are to march to the beat of a different drum. And that will often mean being out of step with our culture and even American Christianity; but it will also mean being in step with Christ and the Gospel. And to be in step with Christ, to live with a love for God and others, to be peculiar and different, is to be able to step with hope and joy.

         And so, let us continue to be very odd, peculiar people so that we continue to be truly Christian and truly a church that lives the Gospel.

                                                                                                                       God be with you,
                                                                                                                                 Jeff

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