Feeling Odd

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. –1 Peter 2:11

Working in youth ministry for thirty years has given me a strong taste of what it’s like to feel odd. Over the years, I’ve received odd comments, looks and reactions for liking teenagers and caring about their lives. Some comments I’ve received:

  • “You hang out with kids? What do you really do for a living?”
  • “When are you going to get your own church and be a real pastor?”
  • “So, you…actually spend time with teenagers? Why would you do that?”

It seems that being odd and being misunderstood is part of what men and women serving in youth ministry sign-up for when they follow God’s lead to love Him and to like teenagers. Being odd is just part of the gig.

In God’s larger kingdom too, being odd is also a part of simply following Jesus. As our Scripture passage today mentions, we are “aliens and strangers in the world.” Jesus was odd too. In Him, God became flesh, lived among us, and invited us to embrace a foreign way of thinking; to exchange our focus from the physical to the spiritual, from the fleeting kingdoms of this world, to His everlasting Kingdom. He invites us to dance instead of walk; to be odd…simply odd.

But, this odd life is not for the sake of appearing weird. It’s not as if all Christians are required to wear clown suits to church. Being odd for the sake of Jesus is the highest of callings. It’s living an odd life marked by love, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, humility and self-sacrifice.

A. W. Tozer beautifully describes this oddness:

“A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for one whom he has never seen. He talks familiarly every day to someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another, empties himself in order that he might be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up. He is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels 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 knowledge.”

As it turns out, maybe feeling odd isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, perhaps if the world does not recognize the oddness of Jesus in us, we should start to wonder why.

1. What odd characteristics of being a Christ-follower have others noticed in your life?

2. In what ways do you desire to grow even more odd as a Christ-follower?

John 13:34-35; Colossians 3:1-10; 1 Peter 4:12-19

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields is the senior director of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of leaders, teenagers and parents each year. He’s also the author/co-author of 50+ books including: Parenting in a Screen Saturated Culture; Intentional Parenting; 7 Ways to be Her Hero – the One Your Wife Has Been Waiting For; and To Have and To Hold. In addition to Doug’s speaking and writing, he is also the co-founder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and the youth pastor at Mariners Church. Doug has been married for more than 35 years to his wonderful wife Cathy, and they live near their 3 married children and 3 grandchildren in Southern California.

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