I wonder if there’s a category in the Guinness book of records for number of times relocated. During a thick slice of our life, my young family averaged a move every nine months. Such were the challenges of needy churches and short-handed ministry. My personal “favorite”: the first day in a new house when we were unpacking boxes and we got a call saying we needed to move back to the city we had just left. Ouch.
No matter where we went, I always seemed to experience a vague dissonance in that place. I’m from a small southern town—Pineville, Louisiana, where people are interesting, food is better, and the air is hot and heavy with moisture, like it ought to be. The fishing can bring tears to a man’s eyes. Under the providential hand of God, though, I’ve managed to live most of my adult life in the north. And I don’t mean north like Arkansas. I mean Ohio and Pennsylvania, with frequent excursions to Canada, western New York, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Minnesota. They don’t have cold weather in those places. They’ve got science experiments. That has meant serious adjustments on my end. But folks have had to adjust to me, as well. I laugh too much and too loud. My childhood stories are overly colorful, making others wonder if I was a member of the Addams Family. I had an accent (now relaxed) that people had trouble understanding. One kid at a youth event asked if I was from another country. After a lot of years, I’ve gotten used to being a square-ish peg in a square hole.
There’s a reason for this tale of culture shock, though. This is where you come in. My guess is that you don’t quite fit, either. In a certain way, you’re the odd man out. Sesame Street sings, One of these things is not like the others, and you’re that thing. That is, if you have a deep emotional and intellectual involvement with the Christian faith. In which case, you’re on the distant outskirts of political correctness as far as the planet Pluto is from the neighborhood convenience store. The following beliefs put you there:
- The Bible is the word of God. It doesn’t need rehabbing, updating, fixing, or any rounds in the spin cycle.
- Human beings have a certain dignity that comes from looking like our Creator rather than being an accident that grew out of a puddle billions of years ago.
- The Ten Commandments aren’t the Ten Suggestions.
- Sin is an actual offensive condition before God, not the guilt complex of a Freudian delusion.
- Saviors are incredibly rare (in fact, there’s only one); they don’t travel in packs.
- Jesus died for our sins, making forgiveness available, and there are no alternative cures such as trying to be a better person or just being sincere in whatever you believe, or using a Mac rather than a PC.
- Jesus resurrected and that’s not a lie the Apostles foisted on the world so they could be religious rock stars.
- The Christian life is a union of accurate teaching, relational experience, and obedience. It can’t be like a roll of lifesavers, where you dig out the red and green ones, but leave the other flavors you don’t want.
- God defines sexual morality, not the courts or the media or angry folks who troll internet forums.
- Christ is coming back to judge the world in righteousness, and no, He won’t be giving out sloppy kisses and hugs to everyone. Eternal life is real. So is hell.
Believe these things, and you, my friend, will be in trouble. You’ll have more problems than this southern expatriate who can’t find decent pecan pie or good bass fishing. You’ll be out of step in a highly noticeable way. You’ll feel it. Everything around you will make you feel it.
But welcome to the party.
To be continued
Photo credit: Pippalou