Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jesus and the Social Outcasts

Herman Wouk once noted that religious groups are like people with frostbite: they tend to lose extremities.

Yes, just as fingers and toes are the first to go, so too churches and synagogues tend to lose people who stand out from the crowd.

Most groups, after all, have a pretty clear idea of who fits in (and who does not).
  • A church full of Republican, football fans who love Country-Western music, for instance, will tend to "select in" more of the same.
  • But it will tend to "select out" people who vote for different candidates, watch different sports, and listen to different kinds of music.
  • And yes, a church full of socialists who watch soccer and listen to skiffle music will do the same!
You don't need to be down-and-out, in other words, in order to feel like an outcast at church. No, all you need to do is find something that makes you different, something that makes you unusual, something that makes sure you don't fit in with the rest of the crowd.
  • Like your job.
  • Or your education.
  • Or your politics.
  • Or your taste in music.
  • Or your ethnicity.
  • Or your marital status.
  • Or your sexuality.
  • Or whatever else makes us think you are "weird."
And yes, you could try to fit in -- and there are times you may need to do this.

You could leave the church for friendlier surroundings -- and I hate to admit it, but there are times you may need to do this for your sanity (and maybe even your own safety).

But for the sake of the church, I hope you will stay weird and stick around -- that you will continue to challenge us, confront us, and help us grow.

It might be easier to leave, after all.

But we need you to give us a hand.

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