No Less Than Bizarre!!

I really respect all of the people who comment on this blog. I appreciate your input and your concerns. This avenue has offered many relationships–sometimes with people I’ve not even had the privilege to meet yet. I really enjoy those relationships.

It is because of those relationships that I have a rather interesting question to pose to you all. I hope this doesn’t cause controversy, but conversation. So, as you comment (and I hope you will) please be considerate of opinions and speak with words that lift up.

In the kingdom of Jesus, He Himself dealt with some really messy people–spiritually speaking. He chose followers who definitely had issues. He walked and talked with people from crazy backgrounds and circumstances ranging from prostitutes to adulterers to religious fanatics. There are situations that many of us deal with in ministry that would fit into the category of “No Less Than Bizarre.”

How do we deal with so much bizarre behavior in our world? I know the Bible is filled with strange situations. Situations like God telling Hosea to marry a prostitute, churches in the New Testament with people who committed incest, and even homosexuality throughout the kingdom of their day. It teaches me that our really crazy world is not unique.

I used to think that God was more on the side of us staying out of those kinds of relationships. “Don’t hang out with the sinners or you’ll be like them” we were told as youngsters. We had a pig farmer in our church where I grew up and he would always tell us, “You can’t walk through the pigs without smelling like them.” That is a truism. Yet, Jesus hung out with the worst of the worse of His day, taught them about Himself, and even called them to take His message to the uttermost parts of the world.

I guess my question to all of you is this: How do we relate to the world better? How can I walk up to a person who is so different from me and help them know my Jesus? How can we get them to see that we really care and want them in a deep relationship with Jesus?

I think that there is going to have to be some real change in the way we present ourselves to the world. I believe that we are going to have to help them see by our actions and not just words that Jesus has made a real difference in us. Love the sinner, hate the sin, and do all we can to help them get our of their mess just like Jesus IS HELPING us out of ours.

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10 responses to “No Less Than Bizarre!!

  • Meowmix

    This will probably sound trite compared to other comments you’ll receive, but the first thought that comes off the top of my head (and it’s not very profound) is the word “kindness.” When we must deal with the kinds of people Jesus did, it’s really hard to be Him to them. I think where I would need to start would be in simply treating them with kindness, when the time would come to interact with them. I would need to remind me that I have sin in my life, too; it just may not be the same ones theirs are. Again, not very profound.

  • gregengland

    When I was a police chaplain, I had a huge mountain of acceptance to climb but I eventually managed to be accepted by the men and women of that department. One thing I did was to ride with them and go to the range with them and just be available to them. I never judged them for their language or their jokes or their lifestyles. I loved them and respected them as people and they came to do the same in return. I even had a couple of them talk with me about spiritual matters, one literally on his deathbed. I didn’t convert him, but he knew I cared. I think we do it like Jesus did it … we befriend them without judgmental attitudes and let them see Christ in our love and in our attitudes and that’s NOT going to happen when we’re arrogantly self-righteous. I told my brother last week that I am very concerned about our heritage and future because our attitude has been “they need to come to us and become one of us” rather than our trying to go to them and accept them in love. It’s not about becoming “one of us” … it’s about knowing Jesus Christ and we must be Jesus to them in the same way Jesus presented himself to them.

    Now if you’ll turn to page number 693 as we stand and sing the invitation…..

  • Keith Davis

    “Just As I Am……..”

  • cwinwc

    As Pat Pugh would say, “Keep it real.” I think we have to be involved with the world, try to present a Christ-like attitude at all times, and then let folks know its O.K. to slip up because truth be known we do it all the times ourselves.

    My Dad would say, “Don’t be a phony.”

  • Matthew

    This is a deep issue, that would be answered differently for different people. The level of engage would be according to spiritual maturity.

    http://www.matthewsblog.waynesborochurchofchrist.org

  • Mari

    I found this website quite by mistake, but have decided to post a comment on this topic. Having been one of “those” people, I have some insight with regard to what touched my heart. First, I was touched more by actions than by words. There was a long time (many years) during which the Word was a complete turn off. As soon as someone started quoting the Bible, I would immediately stop listening mostly because I felt I was being talked at rather than talked to. Also, most people came across as self-righteous, and for someone who wore her sin on the outside (some sin you just can’t hide and shield with plastic smiles), I associated being judged with people who didn’t sound like they had their own opinions (I’m not saying this was the case – I’m just sharing my perception). I had been rejected in so many churches for several reasons. Having a naked ring finger hanging next to a pregnant belly did not help. As I looked for a church that would accept me as a fellow sinner, people openly discussed me, looked judgmentally at me, and criticized me. What eased me back into the Body? A Christian woman took me and my three children into her home when we fled an abusive relationship. She probably spent a small fortune on food and diapers, but what really stands out to me is the time she spent building my spirit and preparing me to step back out into the world with confidence that I could be a responsible parent and support my kids on my own. Another Christian woman invited me to a Saturday night service at a church ever time she saw me for three years. She never pushed it on me, just kept telling me she thought I would like it. Her gentle persistence gave me a place to go when I was ready. In the meantime, someone had given one of my kids a VeggieTales movie (King George and the Ducky.) I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but the message is presented in a nonthreatening way, and my heart started to open a little to His Word again. The church I had been invited to 100s of times (literally), donated 120 Thanksgiving baskets to my low income apartment complex. Astonished at such an enormous task, and touched that they meant what they said about loving God’s children, I finally stepped foot in a church again after five years of having given up. I have been attending ever since, and now am convicted in my faith and my salvation. It was not an overnight success, mind you. I asked a lot of questions, challenged a lot of what I heard, and took a long time to establish trust. Along the way, people were patient, had a sense of humor, and consistently gave me the impression that they sincerely cared that I learn and grow in my faith. Overall, actions spoke much louder than words to me… Seeing people live their faith was the most genuine and effective expression of Christ for me. I hope what I have shared does not offend anyone as that is not my intention. Thanks for reading.

  • Keith Davis

    Mari, Thanks for stopping by, though seemingly by accident, even though I don’t believe in accidents. Your comment on this blog just confirms my heartfelt conviction that people are brought to Christ through genuine faith and not so much always by the Book. In fact, I’m coming to believe more and more that the Book was not written so that we could convince the world of its many wonderful doctrines, but that we could see God’s kingdom as a place where relationships happen, both with Him and with one another.

    I hope that you will allow me to read your answer to my blog to our congregation. They are a wonderful loving group of people who have really begun to see that the kingdom is more an “organism” than an “organization.” I think it will be an encouragement for us to continue doing what God has called us to in our community. His mission to us and I believe to the Christian world is very simple. Love God, Love Others, and Serve.

  • Mari

    Interestingly, I have found that the Word feeds my soul now; it makes sense to me in a way it never did before. One of the biggest things that has helped me is that God tells us none of our situations is unique. I think many people get frozen where they are, thinking that they are alone and can’t relate to others; they keep their suffering a secret where it will never get any better. It can be frustrating for people who know what Christ can do in their lives to be patient and persistent and not “force” Truth on others. Building and maintaining authentic relationships is perhaps one of our greatest challenges as Christians, but without them the Body suffers.

    Thanks for asking if you can share my story with your congregation. I hope it does encourage your congregation to not grow weary in their service to others. I think your mission is right on 🙂

    Blessings to you and your congregation,

    Mari

  • Meowmix

    Mari: thank you for sharing your story in such an honest and unselfish way. God bless you for giving all of us insight.

  • Sonny Owens

    My AM sermon this Sunday morning is about how Jesus treated the woman in John 8.
    He treated with:
    1. Dignity
    2. Compassion
    3. Frankness (being honest) [don’t count the word out it still saves and without it there is no salvation for faith in Jesus comes through the word. I too appreciated what Mari had to say. It will help me dealing with those I am striving to reach. But I also know (from life) that many times it is our thinking about how people are looking at us and not how they are really feeling about us. Good sincere loving Bible quoting and Bible toting people seem judgmental when we or someone is trying to share God’s saving message that is doctrinal/teaching and we are not willing to submit to the Father’s will (that means leave sin).]
    4. Grace and Hope

    No question building relationships is the way we are to win the world to Jesus. But also remember we build relationships so we can teach them about Jesus. We can tell them all day about the Lord. At some point we must open the book and share the convincing and convicting message that the Holy Spirit has allowed us to hear and to believe and to obey.

    I am not so nieve (probable spelled wrong) to know that some will look down their nose at hurting people. We do tend to forget that we too was saved by God’s grace and that we too were (and still are) sinners and helpless without Divine help and help from children of the Divine Father, Son and Spirit.

    I feel blessed to work with a congregation in a low income area. We meet all kinds. Some are sorry ans low down, Many have been beaten down.

    There have been so many in the last 4 years to come through our doors that have not stayed. We wish they all would stay. Thank the Lord for those who have stayed and especially those who have taught us as much as we have taught them.

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