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)

  • When I had first come to the Lord, I still had non-Christian friends. I went to the bar(s) with them, hung out, just didn’t drink. It wasn’t very long and they started avoiding me b/c I didn’t fit into their lives any more. I was still a tough cookie, did some really sinful things still attached to my lifestyle, but did lose my friends. Slowly gained Christian friends.

    Today, to be honest, except for a few long-time email friends and acquaintances, I don’t have non-Christian “Friends”. We can be surface acquaintances, but in-depth friends. I can be a servant of the Lord and love and care for people, no matter what they do or don’t believe, but I can’t pour my heart out to them.

    Now, do I ever still cuss? Yes, unfortunately. At least, usually, no one hears it except the Lord when I holler at my computer, for instance. But even then I usually ask forgiveness immediately. To do what you described re: the author and the band… not OK.

    Your situation is a very honest and in some ways quite difficult. But our dear Father is the only One upon Whom we can rely. If He could change me and my lifestyle and my surroundings, He can change anything for anyone. In the long run, YOU will be the blessing and the seed planter and the harvester.

    • I guess since my journey was a different one – being almost literally raised in Church (my mom’s a pastor) since I was 6 years old, for the longest time I had no non-Christian friends. And that bothered me because how can I help others find God when everyone I know already knows Him? That changed in the university which, although called Christian, had only about 10-15% of Christians there. So I met a gal with whom we soon became best friends (still are, 8 years later) – and she’s not a Christian. Also, along the way, I met with other people and most of people at work are not Christians either – and I have a lot of close friends at work. The sad part is that I feel more at home sometimes around my non-Christian friends than with those who know God. At the same time, I am blessed with a group of honest Christian friends with whom I feel I can discuss anything and they will still love me the way I am.

      He can change anything for anyone – amen to that! As I was writing this post, a verse from Galatians 1:24 kept popping into my mind – “And they praised God because of me.” I want to be able to say the same πŸ™‚

      Thanks, Joanne!

  • Realized I missed a word — 2nd paragraph: … We can be surface acquaintances, but NOT in-depth friends.

  • Well lil sis. You nailed it. You have probably seen how I have written about such things. I reject the whole idea of compromising in order to be accepted. Pastors won’t preach the Truth, but will talk about God’s love and grace (which I believe in) but won’t mention judgment and consequences for sin. Or they give that mamby-pamby Joel Osteen garbage of “everything will be fine if you tell yourself it will.” UGH! Pastors swearing from the pulpit or in conversation? Gotta wonder what God thinks about all that after He has told us to be pure and “whatever you say or do, do it all to the glory of God.” You have stated the “hard way” to live. it might be time for Christ-followers to get with the program. Well done Zee.

    • Compromise is alluring yet deadly dangerous. And I had enough of it at the university where my Bible teacher talked about the fact that the Devil doesn’t exist, that all the life is supposed to be is love and happiness, that it’s our goal to live in the moment, creating our own realities (just like you said “everything will be fine if you tell yourself it will” stuff)…

      Thanks big brother πŸ™‚

  • Mary

    What matters is content, not form. Forms differ, for example Zee and Mary are different in form in all sorts of ways. On a larger scale, there are many different religions in the world. Ultimately, the content of all the great religions is love. If love is in our minds and hearts our behavior towards other people will be shaped by this content. This covers all situations and circumstances. We don’t have to work it out ahead of time. What we do have to work on is getting our own blocks out of the way so the love of God can flow through us. If we are fully present to someone they will feel this and know this, and what we say and do will be right for that situation. In another situation the content of love might be expressed quite differently.

    This content of love is the key. The forms may differ but the underlying content reveals the unity of all things which is the ultimate truth revealed in true religion. We are not different, we are One.

    • Love is the key for sure πŸ™‚

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