I recently saw a post on The Living Church’s Covenant blog titled “Evangelism of the Weird.” Wow, both evangelism AND weird. At first glance, it seems like no better way to scare people off . . . well, except me. (I’m rather fond of both.) First glances, though, are not always correct.
If you really think about it, having faith and actually practicing it in our current society are pretty weird (at least in a number of areas). (In this case, I’m specifically talking about Christian faith.) We worship a God who’s three but also one. We believe in a guy who’s both God and human and who died and then came back to life and will supposedly return at some point. And that’s not even getting into burning bushes, parting seas, multiplying loaves and fishes, etc.
Then there’s all the stuff about believing this world isn’t all there is, that we’re more than just a bunch of atoms floating about. We have an intimate link to our ultimate Creator, one who is more than a distant watchmaker but rather deeply involved in the warp and woof of our lives, albeit in often mysterious ways.
Of course, for a lot of people these days see Christianity (or at least Christians) as a different kind of weird. Many view right-wing evangelicals as the face of Christianity in this country. Increasingly, the image in their minds is one of bigotry, homophobia, hypocrisy. One of people who care more about passing anti-abortion laws than making sure children get adequate health care or education, who believe “religious liberty” is a license to discriminate. It’s not just weird but, frankly, immoral.
With all of that, it be be hard to tell others I’m a Christian. In some places it’s actually easier to come out as gay than as Christian. However, just as coming out as an LGBT person is vital, especially in areas where it’s less accepted, coming out as Christian is also needed. As an Episcopalian, I can tell you that we can appear a little weird. We gather on Sunday mornings. We sing. We wear funny clothes and funny names for things. We consume special bread and wine that somehow represents the presence of Jesus. (Or actually contains his presence, but we can’t seem to agree on that.) For crying out loud, we even wash other people’s feet once a year!
Some want to tamp down some of that weird and focus on social justice causes. Well, the latter is good, and I do see it as a Gospel imperative. However, lots of groups work for social justices; so what makes us different? Well, I think a lot of what I mentioned above plays into that. We have a firm foundation for what we believe and what we do. We’re not just making it up as we go along but also draw on a long tradition. What we have to proclaim more effectively is that it’s a living tradition with many strands that is always evolving. It’s one that involves all of who we are — mind, body, and spirit. We have to proclaim that none of us are alone. We are connected with each other, both now and in the past, in a larger body. Can there be anything weirder in this hyperindividualistic culture-of-now? I for one embrace that weird.