By Paul Borthwick
Paul is a prolific author and speaker on youth and missions. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts with his wife Christie.
I live in the American suburbs in a beautiful town. Many friends and neighbors hold college degrees, drive nice cars, and present themselves as dignified, respectable citizens.
While I know that behind their doors there is relational abuse, alcoholism, despair, people walk with heads high in my community.
How do I present the love of Christ in this context? I try to fit in. I act dignified, talk intelligently about my faith, and warm others to the gospel.
If someone asks about our international missionary work, I talk about respectable things – like leadership development, well drilling in poor villages and health care for children.
People listen and clap politely, but none get too excited about the Christ they see in me. The neither act nor react. What am I doing wrong?
When I looked more closely at the examples of Jesus and the apostle Paul as witnesses to God’s truth, I discovered my problem. I’m simply not crazy enough.
Consider Jesus – he started his ministry, performed some healings, drew some followers, and then came home. And there, his family tried to restrain him because people were saying, “He is out of His mind” (Mark 3:21).
The religious leaders called him demonized and his own household refused to believe (Mark 3:22, 31-35; John 7:5).
Or look at Paul. He gets his big chance for ministerial influence in the political arena before King Agrippa, but rather than softly introducing the story of God’s love, he gets right to the point – declaring the suffering Messiah whom God raised from the dead (Acts 26:23).
The listeners quickly observe that Paul, like his master, Jesus, was out of his mind. He had truly become a fool for Christ’s sake.
When I first decided to follow Jesus, we lived in a counter cultural era. We followers of Christ happily considered ourselves “Jesus Freaks”. Being out of step with society was a good thing. We saw a little weirdness as evidence that our true citizenship was in heaven.
I wonder if I need to return to being radically different than the norm.
Maybe my neighbors would rise up and take notice if I started welcoming the outcasts of the world into my dignified neighborhood. Maybe I should take my neighbors with me to the poorer world – so that they could see the counter cultural nature of following Christ.
If I were a little wackier for Jesus, at least my neighbors would be forced to have an opinion – rather than relegate me into the category of a “nice, religious person.” If being crazy for God was good enough for Jesus and the apostle Paul, it should be good enough for me