A Love for Misfits

…you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” (rf. Lv. 19:18)
Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (rf. Lk. 6:31)

            I have always had a soft spot in my heart for misfits, the socially-awkward, outcasts, and those who who have never quite “measured-up” to the standards of the popular, the beautiful, or the “elite” among us. It may not be politically correct to use such terminology, but, since I deal in the truth rather than the feelings or fads of the moment, I will stick with what I have written. This is not to say that in the use of the term, “misfits”, I am in any way in agreement with that contingent of present society who would have the rest of us be forcibly made to accept sinful behavior as “normal” protocol. The Lord Himself has already set the standards of right and wrong, good and evil, normal and abnormal. It behooves us to get with His program and stop trying to rewrite and redefine His creation dictates.
            No, by “misfits” I am referring to those who believe themselves to be somehow defective when compared to the accepted “norms” that culture and society has set up as for beauty, athletic prowess, strength (inner and external), intelligence, social grace and wealth. This deference of mine for those who fall into this category is partly due to my understanding of Scripture (which I will explain momentarily) and partly out of my own experience. You see, I can personally identify with those who believe themselves to be misfits, because, while growing up, I considered myself to be one. Though I possessed some athletic abilities, I was taller than my peers and far skinnier than they (I couldn’t pay to add weight, though now I don’t have that problem). I played some sports (i.e. football, baseball) in younger years, yet these same sports became out of reach for me when I hit high school. So, I turned all of my attention to the arenas of academics and drama, finding blessing in great achievements, though these were areas where misfits like me tended to congregate. We had a great deal of camaraderie because we had this tag in common.
            I share this information without regret, because I learned a great deal in the experience. Not being a part of the “in group” provided a wealth of perspective, especially after I began to understand more of the ministry of Jesus. The vast majority of the Master’s ministry was spent reaching out to just such a group of people as these, ranging from “a prostitute” (rf. Lk. 7:36-50) to the untouchables of His time, the lepers who were the classic example of outcasts (rf. Mt. 8:2-4). Jesus taught His disciples that His love extended to all kinds of folk. They were not to spend their time with the people just like them nor to concentrate their efforts on the powerful or rich who might end up doing them harm (rf. Jas. 2:1-13). In this way, if we follow the Lord’s example, we provide a true object lesson of God’s grace, disclosing that we are all, in fact, misfits in the light of His holiness, having been received into the Lord’s presence despite not being worthy to do so because of our own sinfulness.

            Therefore, as we seek to be missional in our individual and corporate Christian lives, let us keep our eyes open purposefully for those misfits in our community to whom we can reach in the love of Christ. We can never underestimate the positive effect such efforts can make in their lives nor the pleasure our Lord finds when we do so.

A Return to Holiness

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts” (rf. Is. 6:3)
…Holy is His name” (rf. Lk. 1:49)

            To be holy is to be set apart, separate, sanctified. God Himself is the perfect essence of separation in that He is sinless, having no blemish whatsoever in His righteous character. Yet out of His purity, He exhibits a love of such immense proportions as to extend to sinners, such as ourselves who deserve His wrath in the light of His holiness, the promise and gift of salvation solely upon our receiving of it. This is grace, indeed…but I digress from the point of this article.
            As followers of the Lord, the Scriptures state that we are to be reflectors of His holiness (rf. Dt. 7:6; Eph. 1:4). In our personal and public lives, we are called to be separate from the world in how we live, the things we say and do, because of our obedience to His Word and His Spirit (rf. II Cor. 6:14-18). 
            Yet, unfortunately, it is apparent how few things that professed believers in Christ actually believe to be holy or sacred (an alternative word for “holy”) today, including themselves. Most do not fear God, but treat Him as a grandfather figure or a good friend who can be counted upon in bad times, but is not necessarily required during the times of favor. Neither human life nor marriage are viewed as sacred with both subjects seen as disposable in relation to our personal wants, whims or conveniences. Even the house of God is no longer understood to be a holy place or “sanctuary” where, in times past, one tread the floors with awe, silence, and respect (and taught their children to do the same) because you were in the special place set aside for the worship of Almighty God. Now, the house of God has become just another open space, not unlike a regular theatre, auditorium or warehouse with no real significance, because the awe, respect, and concept of holiness has been thoroughly removed.
            The world needs to know this truth of holiness even if it will never appreciate it, simply because it is a reflection of God’s holiness. We as His people are responsible for displaying it to them. In order for that to happen, we must recommit ourselves to this concept and truth first. We must possess the fear, awe and respect for God in how we worship Him. We must show ourselves to be a “holy people” by a clear and defined separateness from the culture and world around us, teaching our children by word and example to do the same. We must uphold the things that God’s Word deems to be sacred or holy (i.e. the Lord’s Day, human life, marriage, our bodies, the ministerial calling, etc.), promoting them as such to others so that they will begin to understand and possess this important concept as well.

            If we make such a commitment to a return to holiness, we may yet see a renewal in the Church as God’s people begin to distinguish themselves once again as His “peculiar people” that He intends them to be. May this long-needed separation start today with each of us.