Weaving through the aisles of a grocery store, we talked of favorite authors and books.

“This gal came to speak at the university once. She is a Christian writer. Growing up in a tough family situation she overcame a lot. At the lecture she cussed a bit – the students loved it…”

The talk happened over a week ago, but that bit of the conversation stuck in my head.

Another time, another person, another talk. This time we discussed music.

“They are a Christian band – but in one of their songs they used the F-word so they would be accepted in mainstream music circles.”

I have no idea what band it was. Neither did I care to clarify.

The principles are the same.

Don’t appear too holy or else you’ll not be accepted or listened to.

Those two conversations keep coming back to me. The surroundings, the intonation of the voice, questions in the eyes. And I myself start to wonder.

I work with people who say they believe God is there, but don’t yet trust Him. I have non-Christian friends – some are agnostics, on their way to find out what on earth and in heaven is really going on.

Some simply don’t care, living in this moment, the “here and now.”

And sometimes I still wonder – how should I behave around them?

Should I appear to be “just like them” or should there be something different about me?

While I am not completely against the emergent church, the bit that worries me most is they want to be considered “not too holy to be normal” so to speak.

On the lock screen of my iPod there is this picture of Jesus.

He sits there, maybe contemplating the fate of the world, probably communicating with His Dad, perhaps thinking of His own future. This picture was taken by Michael Belk, a truly great photographer and a Christian who started the project “Journeys with the Messiah.” I know this is not the picture of real Jesus. However, I have no trouble to imagine the real one sitting wearing a similar expression.

He stood out.

He was different.

He did not cuss in order to make people feel more comfortable around Him and feel as if He was one of them, a rebel. Yes, He danced and laughed and [oooh!] even drank wine with them. Yes, we often talk about Jesus as God who came to earth to be one of us. But He was still different. So odd in the eyes of some, that He was killed.

But notice this one thing.

When He spoke, everyone listened (not everyone agreed but boy, did they listen).

It’s difficult to be different. It takes an enormous amount of guts.

And it’s an act of extreme balance – while being “not of this world” yet not terrorizing everyone by our difference but somehow, at the same time, being different. Not being “holier than thou” but striving to be holy – set apart for Him and His work.

I want to be different.

(Special thanks to Duane Scott for help in editing this post and just for being a great friend)

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