Getting Comfortable

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 And suddenly, a couple of people that I was visiting with turned into quiet, withdrawn shadows of themselves.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.

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  1. Well written 🙂

    I’m not a PK, so I don’t know the crap you’ve had to deal with by being one. You’ve read here, in some of my responses, where I came from to come to Christ (and more of the story is visible on my blog as well). I don’t drink, but I don’t have a problem with being around drinkers or drunks, tramps, or hookers. Likeable? So much as it depends on me, sure – your mileage may vary 🙂

    I don’t believe we’re called to Christ to then build a ghetto that we never leave. I believe we should be swept away, off our feet grateful – and we should tell our faces about it. Sheesh, some people look like they swallowed a bottle of lemon juice in worship services.

    The Andy Stanley quote? Priceless.

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Rick, I look forward to your comments and today’s comment is a good example of why. Thanks for coming by and making me laugh, and for making great points! Down with the lemon faces! It reminds me of what Rufus Moseley said when someone criticized him for laughing so much. They said, “Brother Rufus, do you suppose Jesus laughed all the time like that?” And he responded, “I don’t know that Jesus did, but I know that he made me so that I can.” 🙂

  3. If you liked the comments, pop on over to the blog sometimes when you have a few minutes to spare 🙂

    Love the Rufus Moseley bit – he gets it 🙂

  4. Excellent questions at the end.
    I attended a church service once where the pastor asked the congregation to raise their hands if they knew people who weren’t saved that they could witness to (this was a really large church).
    My jaw hit the floor when only a few (mine and my husbands included) raised their hands.
    Where did these people work? Where did they hang out? Where all their neighbors Christians? How could they NOT know someone who didn’t share their faith?
    I could name over a dozen just off the top of my head.
    That was an eye opening moment for me.
    I can’t say I’m “better” than anyone or that I witness more, but I will say that I’m in the world even though I’m not of this world. My prayer is for God to use me.

    Thanks for this post, really enjoyed it. Loved this chapter!

  5. We definitely wrote about similar themes from a little different points, but I like what you said, Jesus is someone you want to spend time with so are we people that others want to spend time with? I want to spend eternity with Jesus, do people see something of Him in me that makes them want to spend forever with me? Interesting thoughts! Thanks Sarah.

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, TC! I came to a point where I was so surrounded by Christians and church people that I asked God, “Do you not trust me with unchurched, UnChristian people?” Soon, there was a major change in my life. And now, my life is totally opposite of that. I HOPE God is using me. I PRAY God is using me. 🙂

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Jason! 🙂

  8. Sarah, I’ve not had a chance to read this book, but I’m enjoying yours (and Glynn’s) comments. Your phrase about our relationship with Jesus, “It’s not that we don’t like him, we just don’t know him” really spoke to me………Oh, Jesus, that I would know you more!

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Jody, I’m so glad you’re enjoying our responses to the book. All I can say is that if you get a chance to read this book, DO! I’ve never been a non-fiction reader. Normally, with “Christian Living” books, I start with good intentions and enthusiasm, but quickly lose interest. But this book has been a pleasure, every chapter. And I love that every point he makes, he backs with a Biblical story. That just works for me so much!

    Thanks for coming by, Jody! You’re welcome here anytime! 🙂

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