Get Used To Different!
One of the most effective and joyous examples of Christian Discipleship has been the outstanding Jesus mini- series The Chosen as it has clocked up close to 200m views (its aim is to reach 2 billion views and it will surely get there), and it is having a real impact in transforming peoples lives. It has a mantra or mission statement if you will, of Get Used To Different.
I think that is really useful at the moment because, in order to heal the world’s many and multiple divisions, society has to understand and respect people who are ‘different’ in one form or another- as difficult as that may be to do.
For so many mainstream Christians, the idea of embracing someone or something that is ‘other’ can be really difficult and history has shown that. In the past the Church and Christians have condemned Rock ‘n’ Roll (“ sinful, deranged, demonic and ‘the devil’s music’”), in the 1960s the late great preacher Billy Graham campaigned against women wearing the mini skirt (for fear that it would tempt men too much), in the 1970s Christians formed the Festival of Light and with the likes of Mary Whitehouse attempted to ban things that ranged from episodes of Tom & Jerry & Dr Who (both too violent) to Chuck Berry’s song ‘My Ding-A-Ling’ (too naughty). In later decades, some Christians saw global diseases such as HIV AIDs as some kind of wrath that God had inflicted the world with, and then in the 1990s churches tried to ban and burn the Harry Potter series of books, despite the clear Christian influence in them.
The strange thing is that in the Gospels, Jesus was always ‘doing different’. He rarely went for the safe and trusted ‘traditional’ route. Look at the disciples He chose – a tax collector who was someone the local community would have hated as Matthew was demanding taxes on behalf of the Roman Empire who were despised as an occupying force. Fishermen who were people of the sea, rough and ready characters who were unlikely to be amongst the most learned of individuals. Jesus spent his time with prostitutes, Samaritans (also despised), lepers, people like Mary Magdalene who had severe mental health issues, paralytics -the list goes on.
Jesus was drawn to those in society who were forsaken, marginalised and who through their lives had stumbled and fallen. For those who were broken, Jesus loved, and He redeemed them.
If our faith and our church is to recover itself to allow us to help heal the world we need to embrace those people in our society who are ‘other’, who are ‘different’ to us in some way or another. That may be people not just of a different race, gender, sexuality, or (dis)ability. It could be someone who is adopted, bereaved, lonely, isolated, broke, or scared. As we look around our world in 2021, we should ask ourselves who are the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the lepers, the paralytics of our time?
Jesus ‘did different’. So should we!