Strange or Stranger
pg. 28 — lightandlifemagazine.com
By Jon Swanson
“The whole city was favorable to them, and each day
God added to them all who were being saved”
(Acts 2:47 TLB).
Every day, God was adding to the kingdom those who were being saved — true then and
still true today. For whatever reason, God chooses to use us in that process. Sometimes, we
get in the way. Sometimes, we make it really difficult on people, and other times, we make a
positive contribution. I love how attractive the early church was to people outside the faith.
People far from God were drawn toward this new and strange behavior. Regarding this new
and fresh movement of God, Eugene Peterson says, “People in general liked what they saw”
(Acts 2:47 MSG).
People on the outside looking in did not say, “Dude, these people are weird. I want nothing
to do with them.” Just the opposite, they liked what they saw, and they wanted to be a part of
what was happening. What do you think? What do people in your neighborhood think about
you? What do the nonbelievers in your community think about your particular expression
of the church?
As a young pastor, I was on staff at a church in the Denver area. We decided as a team to go
door to door and ask people what they thought about Christians. It was one wild experience.
Doors were slammed shut, swear words were shouted, conversations were had. Not many
people thought very highly of Christians.
Over time, every person, family and organization will adopt cultural behaviors. Some of
these behaviors are good, some maybe unhealthy, others might even be a little weird, and
a few might be healthy and weird. The church is no different. If we’re willing to look in the
mirror and be honest with ourselves, each of us could identify some outré behavior in each
of our organizations. In fact, most social behavior that violates convention or propriety in the
secular world would probably be considered bizarre inside the church. And let’s be honest,
there are some who haven’t helped the image of Christ in this regard.
Jon Swanson, D.W.S., is the assistant
superintendent of the Reach Conference and
the communications pastor of Timberlake
Church in the Seattle area. He has
previously served churches in Washington
and Colorado in a variety of roles that have
included lead pastor and worship pastor. He
holds a doctorate and a master’s degree from
the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship
Studies in Jacksonville, Florida.