, , , , , , ,

I am definitely an outlier, a misfit, one of those people who does not follow the herd, living in land full of rugged individualists all going their own way. Their own way, as in way out there sometimes. It’s somewhat amusing to be perceived  as such a traditionalist, a conservative, “old fashioned,” repressed even, because we are really grading on a curve here.  Compared to what??!  Regardless, alas, I am still a misfit.

The whole concept of being a misfit, of simply feeling as if you don’t fit in, and as if perhaps that is good thing, has been on my mind lately. Romans 12:2 speaks of how we are to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We aren’t supposed to “fit in,” whatever that means. We may be IN the world, but we are not OF the world. If you don’t fit in you’re probably doing something right. There can be a downside to that however, a walling of oneself off from the other humans, isolation, lack of fellowship. We have high suicide rates in this neck of the woods and it’s sad.

In the context of faith, we have huge number of people around these parts called the unchurched church, the Body of Christ outside the ….Body of Christ.  I too am so often outside the church, floating from one church to another, so I empathize there. So many people I meet are worshiping in “God’s cathedral” out in nature,  or on the internet, or in some isolated family group somewhere. I get it, I really do, but I have to speak against it anyway.

We are called to be in church. It is not optional and there are some really good reasons for that. Church is not really a building or an institution, but it is a group of believers gathered in His name. Even if we feel as if we don’t really need the church, the church sure needs us.

We are the church. I say this over and over again, but it’s challenging concept for many to wrap their brains around. We are His body, His fingers, His words in the world. There is something spiritual that happens  when two or more of us are gathered in His name. We are called to worship together and to encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

“And so much more as you see the day approaching.” It’s sad because as people, the more hurt, wounded, or stressed out we become, the more likely we are to with draw and pull away. As things in the world get scary, we tend to want to pull back, isolate ourselves, ….build a bunker and start hoarding canned spam. I empathize there too, let me tell you.

An old fashioned notion, a bit of wisdom once know around these parts was the survival skill of, “get to know your neighbors.” The precise wrong thing to do when it seems as if the world is going down the drain, is to try to isolate yourself. The early Christians banded together because times were tough, and they practiced the art of exhorting one another.

Exhort means “to strongly encourage, to incite by words or advice; to animate or urge by arguments to a good deed or to any laudable conduct or course of action.”

We’re living in a country full of divisions, disunity, disharmony, evident everywhere from politics, to communities, to the church itself. I can’t really do more than pray, remind people that we are called to “preserve the unity,” and that we are the church.

Be the church.