Our churches are filled with normal people.
Normal to us, that is. Normal like you and me.
The church is also filled with freaks and weirdos. Some churches are filled with freaks and weirdos sporting tattoos and piercings. Others are filled with freaks and weirdos in suits and ties. Or overalls and work boots. The list goes on.
One church’s freak is another church’s normal.
Welcoming the Stranger
The Bible tells us frequently to welcome the stranger among us.
Most churches say we welcome everyone. But what would happen if the freaks and weirdos who aren’t our freaks and weirdos started to show up?
That question came up during a recent chat with another pastor. The pastor’s response was "sadly, we'll probably compromise on their sin in order to welcome them in.”
My reaction to this pastor’s statement was so automatic and visceral that I surpised myself.
"How is that any different than how we’ve compromised on the so-called normal sins of so-called normal people?” I asked him. “And why do we use that qualifier for people who look and act differently than we do, but never put an equal burden on the people who look and act like us?"
It wasn't until after the words were out of my mouth that I realized what I had said. Then I found myself in the awkward position of having to decide if I agreed with myself. (In the past, that has not always ended well.)
The other pastor shrugged off my question and we moved on to another topic. But I couldn’t shrug it off. Which means I have to write about it. Lucky you.
I've sat with those words for a while now and I have come to this conclusion. They were right.
But now comes the tougher question.
What does that mean?
But Your Sins Are So Different Than Mine!
What if the outsiders started coming to our “normal” churches? The outcasts, the undesirables and the disenfranchised? The nerds, the geeks and the losers? The freaks and the weirdos? The wounded, scarred and broken? The addict, the deviant and the confused? The angry, belligerent, in-your-face sinner who doesn’t even believe their sin is sin?
You know, the people who were drawn to Jesus?
How would we react to people whose sins are different than the sins we’ve grown accustomed to?
My guess, based on our past behavior, is that we’ll react in one of two opposite ways – both problematic: