Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:26-27).
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him (Acts 10:34-36).
I always find it funny when people say to me something like, “You’re so weird!”
Yeah, I’ve heard that all my life. I’m well aware that I’m weird. I haven’t forgotten.
The fact is, I’m kind of the last person a lot of people expect to become a missionary. A lot of people used to be very surprised I was Christian.
I’m not the clean-cut popular guy. And I’ve never wanted to be.
But the fact is that I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God made flesh, who came to earth and died and was raised again to life to redeem all humanity.
ALL of humanity.
And this is, I think, something that is often forgotten among Christians. We believe God called us to go to every nation, and we’ll support that. We’ll even go on missions trips to serve people in other countries.
But we won’t go across the hall to the weird people. And Heaven forbid we let them into the church!
Odd as it may seem, this is something I struggle with, too. Even though the weirdos are my people, even I can be uncomfortable around some of us.
And that, I think, is why it’s so easy to neglect reaching out to weird people: it makes us uncomfortable.
It’s one thing to be briefly uncomfortable for a few weeks in another country, then leave and come back to the comfort of home and never have contact with them again. It’s quite another to invite someone uncomfortable into your personal life.
And if you’re really reaching out to people—really sharing the Gospel with people, really making disciples—then they’re going to have to bring them into your life. Discipleship is a life-on-life interaction.
So we naturally shy away from making friends with people around whom we are uncomfortable. It’s quite understandable. It’s also very wrong.
When you refuse to share the Gospel with someone, you are refusing to give them hope. You are refusing to help them reconcile with God. You are, in effect, condemning them to hell.
You are not personally and solely responsible for everyone’s salvation. But you are responsible to share the Gospel with the people around you.
Will you refuse?
I’m not saying that you need to make friends with people who you think are going to harm you. Be smart.
I’m also not saying that you need to have pity on the poor, lonely weirdos around you. There are too many things wrong with that sentiment to go into, so I’ll leave it with this: Nobody wants pity friends. Nobody wants to be pitied.
What I’m saying is simply this: Be intentional with who you befriend and who you disciple.
Cross the hall to the guy who listens to opera all the time. Spend time with the girl who is way too into Twilight. Hang out with the person who talks too much about iguanas.
It’s okay. They’re people, too.
And the fact is, if you avoid being friends with people who make you uncomfortable, you are never going to mature well as a person. You grow most when you are stretched. Let’s face it, if you only hang out with people who have the same perspective as you, you’ll never get a better perspective than what you have.
Weird people have something to offer you, too.
And that’s what real friendship is: people building each other up. And you’ll miss out on it if you don’t go after them.
Jesus didn’t just die for you. Nor did he die just for the people who make you laugh or whom you’ve known for decades.
Jesus came for weird people, too.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
God loves them, too.