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Strangely Christian

by Karl Haffner

Life with Jesus is the best way to live.

In his book, Is It Real When It Doesn’t Work?, Doug Murren, a pastor in the Foursquare denomination, tells the following story:
“I grew up a redhead (still am). I was the kid you could always spot in a crowd. On a nice Saturday afternoon, about six of us kids, including one who owned a BB gun, were shooting the smithereens out of the stained-glass window of a Seventh-day Adventist Church behind my parents’ house. It was not only great fun, but also great target practice. One section had just about been knocked out when the custodian came charging out of the church.
“We all ran like the dickens. We jumped over the fence, ran home, and acted as though everything were cool and normal. The only problem was that when the police asked the custodian who had broken the window, he remembered seeing a red-headed kid. Of course, when the police questioned the neighbors about a redheaded kid who lived close to the church, their trail led right to our doorstep.
“Thankfully I didn’t own a gun and hadn’t shot out any of the windows myself. I had simply been an enthusiastic spectator. The culprit who did own the gun ended up paying for the window.
“In a very real sense, when you become a Christian, God turns you into a redhead too. You stick out in a crowd.”1
That’s what the apostle Peter tells Christians. He describes the world as full of “debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3). Then he adds: “Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet—and before God himself. Listen to the Message. It was preached to those believers who are now dead, and yet even though they died (just as all people must), they will still get in on the life that God has given in Jesus”
(1 Peter 4:4-6, Message).2
Who doesn’t want in on “the life that God has given in Jesus”? Sure, we may not fit into this world, but who cares? Life with Jesus is the best way to live. This life, however, doesn’t come to those who mindlessly follow the ways of the world. No, it’s reserved for those who are secure enough in Jesus to be strange.
As someone once said, “The ship’s place is in the sea, but God pity the ship when the sea gets into it. The Christian’s place is in the world, but God pity the Christian if the world gets the best of him.”3
You see, we’re called to be in the world and yet strangers of the world. A. W. Tozer put it like this: “A real Christian is an odd number, anyway. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be full; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strong when he is weakest; richest when he is poorest and happiest when he feels the worst. He dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible; hears the inaudible and knows that which passeth understanding.4
Strange as it sounds, being different is the best way to live. So stick out in the crowd. Let your red hair shine!
1Doug Murren and Barb Shurin, Is It Real When It Doesn’t Work? (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), pp. 206, 207.
2Texts credited to Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
3As quoted in S. Rickly Christian, Alive II, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983) p. 157.
4A. W. Tozer quoted from

Karl Haffner is senior pastor of the Kettering Seventh-day Adventist Church in Dayton, Ohio.

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