I have recently finished reading a few excellent and thought-provoking short stories by Flannery O’Connor. O’Connor lived from 1925 – 1964. Her writing attacked the popular ideas of racism held in honor by many in the United States (especially in the south).
The following reflections come from her story “Why Do The Heathen Rage.” Rather than summarizing the story, below is one big idea that stuck out to me:
Truth will make you odd!
One of the characters in the book, Walter, is not supportive of racism. Instead, he immerses himself in classic Christian literature and finds comfort in the wrath of God which will be revealed against the wickedness and evil of this world. This causes him to be disrespected and even hated by members of his own family. Rather than exercising “polite” racism – as many in the south did at this time – he bucks against the system and comes across as awkward and strange.
This is true for our lives as well.
“In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – 2 Timothy 3:12
If you desire to lead a life which honors God and loves people, you will appear strange in at least three ways!
1. You won’t fit in with family.
Jesus has a tendency to divide people (Luke 12:51). As soon as you begin to take Jesus seriously, other people will be offended. You can be as gentle as possible about your faith and people will still get mad.
Your family will not understand your new priorities.
- Rather than participating in the rat race of the American dream, you begin to practice generosity which doesn’t make sense.
- Instead of joining in the family gossip, you intentionally speak life about others – even people your family doesn’t like.
- Instead of sleeping in on Sundays and splurging your free time on self-gratification, you will spend hours in fellowship with other believers and service to your community.
In essence, you will be weird… even to your family!
2. You won’t fit in with culture.
Every culture has gods which demand worship. It is easy for us to observe this in the pagan world. We see pictures of shrines splashed in blood and are appalled that a people can sacrifice animals to appease the spirits.
As you take Jesus seriously, you will begin to understand that your own culture has a plethora of gods which demand worship.
In the United States, you will be called to worship:
Celebrities (including “celebrity pastors”)
…and a variety of other gods we sacrifice our time, family, and talents to.
As you begin to buck against this cultural standard, the culture will find you odd!
3. You won’t fit in with religious people.
Many churches are content with people who claim to know Jesus because their family grew up in the church basement doing potlucks. As long as you check religion off your list every Sunday morning and attend the monthly business meeting, you are basically a saint.
Unfortunately, if you begin to take Jesus seriously the church is sometimes the last place you will find him. Many churches are obsessed with keeping the status quo and preserving the 1950s to the best of their ability. These churches do not foster outreach-focused, self-sacrificing, sin-killing, radical followers of Jesus.
As soon as you rip off the facade of cold religion for the Living God, you will be rejected by churches condemned to dead orthodoxy… and grandma might be mad you don’t attend the “family church” anymore (sorry… but it’s true).
What are some ways the truth has made YOU odd? Let me know by leaving a comment!