Friday, August 15, 2008

The Misfits Myth

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

                        Psalm 24.1


A few years back, a buddy invited my partner and me to his bachelor party. We tried to politely decline out of concern over what it likely involved, but (Lord love him) he wouldn’t hear of it. So we went, hoping for the best. As the evening progressed, our discomfort increased. First, we were the only couple there. Many of the guys had wives and girlfriends, yet the occasion urged them to act footloose and fancy-free. Then the stripper arrived. We survived the floorshow until it turned, shall we say, “interactive.” That’s when my partner whispered, “We don’t belong here,” and we discreetly disappeared.

Who hasn’t been in comparable situations? People generously invite us into their circles. But once we’re there, they don’t quite know how to make us feel welcome or anticipate how behaviors they find innocuous might be offensive to us. And let’s be real: we make the same mistake ourselves. Although no harm is intended, sometimes it’s more uncomfortable being invisible on the inside than standing outside and looking in. The issue shifts from being rejects to feeling like misfits.

A Period of Adjustment

Undoubtedly, God is speaking to Christians everywhere, compelling them to forsake manmade doctrines and traditions of exclusion for non-judgmental acceptance of everyone—including GLBT believers. As we join their numbers, it’s imperative we’re sensitive to this being an enormous sea change for many of them. Though they genuinely desire our fellowship, it may take a period of adjustment to figure out what to do with us. And we may feel just as awkward about what we should do to fit in.

We owe one another the benefit of every doubt, staying keenly aware this is uncharted territory, a decidedly human endeavor to obey a divine mandate. It demands tolerance and patience all around. If we expect other Christians to recalibrate their thinking to accept us yet insist on holding them to idealized standards, we fail them as much than they do us. Most important, we fall short of Christ’s command to love others as we love ourselves.

Don’t Feel—Know

Following Jesus is about becoming perfect. The believer seeking perfection in others asks for disappointment. As God leads us to coalesce into one people of faith, we have to discard what we feel and go on what we know. The earth is His, everything and everyone in it. We don’t belong to churches. We belong to Him. That’s the bottom line here. Avoid the misfit myth at all costs.

We can learn from Bono's example and set aside worries about fitting in with other believers to work beside them for a higher purpose.

(Tomorrow: A Chosen Generation)

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