The following is a guest post by my good Canadian Twitter friend Tony. Hope you enjoy!
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
– Hebrews 13:2
Picture this: You’re minding your own business, strolling casually down the street with your thoughts running off to where they always run off to, when all of a sudden you collide with a stranger. You mutter your apologies, look at him, and see that he is wearing a toga. What a weirdo. That’s basically just a dress for a man, who even does that seriously? You look him in the face, and you see he’s got darkly tanned skin and a big beard. His dark olive colored eyes appraise you as well, and you get the impression that he is thinking the exact same skeptical thing about you. He’s loving, sure, but his quick assessment of you is one of bewilderment.
Thinking of being polite, you introduce yourself. You wait for his reply a moment, and through an accent that’s completely foreign to you, he introduces himself likewise.
“Hello, my name is Paul. You may have heard of me formerly as Saul the zealot of the pharisees, though I am that man no more.”
You stop dead in your tracks. Hold up. Hold up!
Is that the image you have in your head when you think of the apostle Paul? Who is he in your mind’s eye? Chances are, if you were to run into the real apostle Paul today with him being as authentic as you, you’d relegate him to being a weirdo.
The truth is, you’d look every bit as weird to him too.
We have a tendency to march through life, running down our specific routines, hanging out with our specific group of friends, and getting comfortable with what is familiar to us. Anyone who is different from you takes a lot more energy to get to know and get comfortable with, so you usually just avoid them. I’m guilty of it. I’m very confident that you are guilty as well.
I get it. People who are different from you are challenging. You don’t know how to act around them like you do around your friends. You feel like it’s much easier to step wrong and embarrass yourself around strangers. That’s uncomfortable. You’re stressed as it is and given the choice, you just want to live with what makes sense to you. You feel as if don’t have the energy to risk being confused. What will your friends think with you being around someone who they find equally weird? Admit it or not, your reputation is something important to you.
No matter who you are, you are going to be weird to someone else; the ‘you’ that is deep down behind the masks and acts you that put on. The cool thing is that is exactly how God made you. You are uniquely you, and that is weird. Being weird is something to be celebrated. God has made you just as you are, led you to exactly where you are, and placed people in your life exactly as they are. Every single weird one of them.
The unique combination of talents, likes, and quirks about you are what makes you effective at glorifying God and reaching a specific group of people just for Him. Each one of them has been given the same level of careful attention by Him as you have too, so you have no right to think any less of them for being a different flavour of weird.
Paul’s been dead for a while now… however, who are the weird people you do run into more often in familiar places? When you see them, stop and ask what God could possibly be doing with them where they are at. As strange as it would have been to run into Paul in the scenario above, there are people like that in our lives right now that we could easily dismiss for their strangeness. That could be a big loss on our parts. I’m deeply indebted to the knowledge Paul has passed on, however if all I had was a conversation with him, what a loss it would be to call him weird and move on. I wouldn’t have to consider what way he had been blessed to enrich my life as well.
We buy into our stereotypes, we separate people into different groups, and we try to fit snugly into our own group. I hope you see how narrow that threatens to make our lives; how small our view of God’s created diversity becomes then. You don’t have to accept everything about someone to understand them and value them, nor do they have to do the same for you. That however is where I have discovered a tremendous blessing in the Church. That is why I choose to celebrate the weirdo. Who knows, you may even end up entertaining an angel or two when you break the mold.
Tony is endlessly curious, and one adventure away from being on his next adventure. He takes longer than average to finish a meal, and is statistically better than random at ties in rock, paper, scissors. At any given moment, he busies himself with thoughts of psychology, sociology, or theology. He loves writing, and his passions come together in the form of his blog. See the latest on his website http://northbyseven.com. Follow him on Twitter at @northbyseven.