Aliens, Strangers & Jesus Freaks

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jesus freakWhen I was growing up, I was a little bit like a chameleon. I took on slightly different personalities depending on who I was around. I appeared different, depending upon where I was. I tried to “blend in” to my surroundings, because I wanted to fit in.

Motivated by my insecurities, I spent a lot of time pretending to be someone I wasn’t. One of the dangers, though, is that if you pretend long enough, you start to morph into that person you are pretending to be.

No doubt the worst environment I was in was on the bus to and from school. The Bus offers a unique educational “opportunity” as kids of all ages, Kindergarten up to 12th grade, are concentrated in close quarters, supervised only by a singular adult who, by the way, has to maneuver this monstrosity through traffic (many times in bad weather) and has to execute the bus route.

As a result, conversations go unmonitored, and kids openly talk about all kinds of things they shouldn’t. Not only is the content of conversation, so is the way that kids talk to one another. Put-downs, threats, cursing, etc. Kids try to act tough, they try to act more grown up than they are, and they certainly don’t want to come off as weak or juvenile.

So, when I was on the bus, that’s the way I acted. I talked about things I didn’t really know anything about. I talked a big talk, I tried my best to present myself as a tough guy, and as a result said a lot of mean things to people to try to fit in. In my mind it was a “dog eat dog” world and I needed to act like a dog to survive.

But the reality was that I didn’t fit in, at least, I shouldn’t have. That’s not who I was. But it was who I was becoming. See, instead of being true to myself, I started to change who I was to fit into the mold of that environment.

In the book of 1 Peter, Peter is addressing a group of believers who are struggling to fit in. They have been marginalized by society, they are beginning to experience persecution. As a result, Peter addresses them as “aliens and strangers.” However, this designation isn’t merely descriptive… its actually prescriptive.

1 Peter 2:11 says, Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits.

Peter exhorts them to live as aliens and strangers. He invites them to embrace this identity. He doesn’t want them to “fit in” with the rest of society…he wants them to stand out!

Peter’s address for these Christians as “aliens and strangers” is akin to the DC Talk song from way back in 1995, “Jesus Freak.” The lyrics ask:

What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak?

What will people do when they find out its true?

I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus Freak.

There ain’t no disguising the truth.

Just like Peter did with “aliens and strangers,” DC talk took something that was a derogative term, “Jesus Freak,” and embraced it.

Men & Women Wanted For Hazardous Journey

Being a Christian is a dangerous endeavor—or at least it should be. When I read the Words of Jesus as he both calls and sends disciples, I am astonished at what he demands.

He invites Peter and Andrew to “Come, be fishers of men” (Matt 4). He turns away followers who have business to settle before they can fully commit to following Jesus. When someone else offers to be his disciple he responds with: “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but I don’t have anywhere to lay my head” (Matt 8; Luke 9).

Perhaps the strongest statement Jesus makes about discipleship is this: “If anyone would be my disciple, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt 16:24). The invitation is to come and die. The expectation is sacrifice. The path of discipleship is a dangerous one.

I saw this ad floating around the internet a few years back that has really impacted me. Legend has it that Ernest Shackleton published this ad when looking for men to accompany him on his exploration of Antarctica in the 1910s. I can’t help but think that his invitation is truer to Jesus’ call to discipleship than some of the ways we often extend that call today.

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

 

Knowing Vs. Doing

Chuck Swindoll illustrates knowing vs. doing….

Let’s play ‘Let’s Pretend’. Let’s pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until a new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family and move to Europe for six to eight months. And I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you directions and instructions. I leave and you stay. Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations.

Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival, I drive down to the office and I am stunned. Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the Receptionist’s room. She is doing her nails, chewing gum and listening to her favorite disco station. I look around and notice the wastebaskets are overflowing. The carpet hasn’t been vacuumed for weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I asked about your whereabouts and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, “I think he’s down there.” Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office, which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas.”What in the world is going on, man?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, look at this place! Didn’t you get any of my letters?””Letters? Oh yes! Sure! I got every one of them. As a matter of fact, we have had a letter study every Friday since you left. We have even divided the personnel into small groups to discuss many of the things you wrote. Some of the things were really interesting. You will be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter or two – Great stuff in those letters.”

“OK. You got my letters. You studied them and meditated on them; discussed and even memorized them. But what did you do about them?”

“Do? We didn’t do anything about them.”

SOURCE: Improving Your Serve, Chuck Swindoll