It’s not uncommon for me to feel like an outsider. I think that at some point, we all feel that way. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve been “the preacher’s daughter.” And for most of my life, that meant that I was held to a different standard and treated differently than others. And at times, I’ve been aware that some people just weren’t very comfortable around me. They would meet me and seem to enjoy me, but then they would learn that I was a preacher’s kid, or that I worked in full-time ministry, and suddenly, they couldn’t laugh with me anymore. Or they couldn’t be themselves anymore. Or they felt like they had to explain certain aspects of their lives to me.
On my first trip to the Pacific Northwest – where I now live – I experienced some of that. Someone jokingly called me “the church lady” because at the time, I worked full-time for a denomination. And suddenly, a couple of people that I was visiting with turned into quiet, withdrawn shadows of themselves. It took me some time to learn from them what they problem had been – they expected me to judge them. They stood back and waited for it. It wasn’t until had been around them quite a while and still hadn’t judged them that they let down their guards and let me into their worlds.
I think that a lot of us treat Jesus the same way those folks treated me. It’s not that we don’t like Him. We just don’t know Him. But we’ve known people who have claimed to be one of His followers that have been religious, self-righteous, judgmental or any one of a thousand different things that scare us and make us worry that we’re going to be rejected.
I love how Andy Stanley explains it: “People who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus. They weren’t simply respectful; they liked him. They were comfortable around him. They invited him into their homes. They even invited people over to meet him – friends who, like themselves, were nothing like Jesus….Jesus liked people who were nothing like him.”
Lately, I’m learning how you cannot put God into a box. And so many of us try to put God into boxes and label Him “stuffy” or “boring” or “predictable” or (fill in the blank). But when I look at how Stanley describes Him, I realize just how wrong that is. Jesus went to parties, drank wine, ate dinner with prostitutes. He was a real guy, living a real life. And He was so likable that the people that hung out with Him couldn’t get enough of him. They were comfortable with Him, and He was comfortable with them. And since the Bible says God doesn’t change, if they were comfortable with Jesus then, why can’t we get comfortable with him now?
I also want to take this one step farther. If you claim to be a follower of Christ, do you live your life in a way that everybody can be comfortable around you? Are you real? Are you likable? Do you go to places where real people are found – at parties, drinking wine, and being friends with prostitutes? If not, why not?
The whole goal of Jesus coming was to make a way for us to spend forever with Him. Let’s be the kind of people that other people want to be with, so that they can see Jesus in us enough to realize that they want to be with Him, too.
This post is part of a weekly discussion on Andy Stanley’s “The Grace of God.” You don’t have to read the book to stick around for the chat! Feel free to comment below. Also, if you’ve written a response to this week’s chapter, link it up at the widget below. Then, run over to my co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen’s place, to see what he’s got to say.