On not being weirder than you have to be

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One of the perennial discussions amongst Christians is around weirdness.  Christians are seen as weird.  We don’t fit in with the culture around us.  We are often mocked for our peculiarities.  Is there anything we can do about that?

I would suggest that there are basically three camps in responding, 

Weird it out

This approach argues that we are unavoidably weird because the Gospel is a foreign culture to the world around us.  The basics of Christian life, like getting up early on a Sunday and singing hymns already marks us out as different. So, we shouldn’t worry about being seen as weird. We should revel in it.

Pursue coolness

The second approach seeks to lean away from the weirdness. Yes, there are things that are unavoidably different. So, when we can and where permissible, we should make every effort to fit in with our culture and community.

Don’t be weirder than you have to be

Yes, there’s a lot about the church that people will find weird. So, let’s make sure that those are the only things people consider odd about us.

I lean most towards the third option. I don’t see any benefit in attempting to be weirder than we have to be. The only offense that there should be is the offense of the Gospel.  In my experience, I would also argue that when we try hard to be “cool” we simply end up looking even odder. Christians, generally speaking are not going to be cool. Our attempts at being “with it” and “relevant” are often in the same cringe category as dad joking and dancing at his teenager’s party.

So, we need to accept, embrace even that there are things about what the Bible demands that will separate us out so that the world will consider us weird. I’d distinguish that from when people find our behaviours odd, unnerving and frightening.  For example, the World will always find it weird when we choose to forgive our enemies and do good to those who seek to harm us. We should embrace that weirdness. However, that doesn’t mean we should  go about town, leaping upon unsuspecting people, hugging them and telling them that Jesus loves them. That’s just odd and likely to get you a restraining order.

Often our weirdness arises out of attempts to maintain practices that are in fact not scriptural but relate to a specific culture from a different time and place. For example, in my dissertation on marriage, I argued that Complementarianism is right but that some approaches to it owe more to 1950s’ America than they do to Ephesians 5.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that some people will consider you weird and it has nothing to do with the Gospel at all. It’s just that they find your fanatical support of Bradford City or love of bagpipe music a bit surprising.  Some people are eccentric. I think that we want to give people permission to be weird if that simply means that they are being themselves. However, when people put on a persona and cultivate an eccentricity then that’s not healthy -especially when (as I’ve seen) the person who has cultivated a personal gets offended when people ask them about it.

So, don’t try to be weird, certainly don’t be weirder than you have to be. Simply focus on following Jesus and being yourself in him.

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