The expression ‘think outside the box’ has been around for years and is often used in an attempt to encourage someone to think of something new or to try to see things differently. But how many people live outside the box?
Growing up, I’ve always had trouble fitting in. Whether it was because I was homeschooled to a certain point in life or if I was just born that way, I’ve always seemed to view the world differently than those around me. At first it was a struggle, especially when I started public school. I wanted to fit in like a typical fifth grader wanted to; I even tried to be something I was not to sit with the popular girls at lunch. This, of course, lasted maybe three days tops before I wondered around looking for other friends. I eventually ended up with a group that, though they still thought of me as odd, genuinely welcomed me and made me feel comfortable. (We were, of course, the outcasts of the school.)
There was one downside to this group: one girl in particular didn’t seem to like me. In junior high, she even insulted me with a metaphorical slap in front of others. Mind you, I didn’t know Jesus until I was in my twenties, so this insult brought about my hatred and for about four or five years I held a grudge so passionately against her I pretended she didn’t exist. During our senior year of high school we finally made amends and she apologized for her behavior all those years ago. She admitted near the end of the conversation that the reason she had acted in such a way was because she had thought me to weird to be around and was trying to scare me off.
Fast forward six years, I still felt as if no one understood me–like I was the odd duck of the bunch–and this was after I’d accepted my salvation. Yes, my spiritual family accepted me for who I was just as Christ had taught them, but there were still moments during group discussions or casual conversations where I would feel as if my brain had been wired differently than everyone else’s. Eventually, a personality test would explain that this feeling of being misunderstood was a common emotion for my personality type. Discussing it with those I was closest to in our church, I discovered I wasn’t the only one.
It was in this discussion that I first noticed Jesus was helping me to overcome the loneliness that came with this personality trait. While He was helping me to overcome this by drawing me closer to my adopted brothers and sisters and healing the wound that others had left there, He never corrected my odd nature or changed “the wiring” of my brain. God had created me to be different for a reason as He has created us all differently for a reason. We are each a masterpiece of His creation, beautifully and wonderfully designed.
He also encourages us to go even further with being different. The culture of the world tells us to be self-centered, to strive for financial wealth, to hate, to physically fight, to judge, shun those we don’t like, shame others, kick people when they’re down, and use those around us as stairs or doormats for our own personal gain. However, Jesus calls us to live differently:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:38-45a
We are to love all. Not some; not this one or that one. All. For that is who Jesus died for and that is who God loves. How are we to show the world this is what it means to be loved by the Creator and to be accepted into a spiritual family after salvation if we continue to live as those around us? If we don’t live differently as scripture instructions us to do, why would anyone desire to know Christ?
When God called me to create this blog I knew I wanted it to be as different and unique as He has made each of us. I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to fearlessly live differently from the culture of today by applying scripture to your lives. Don’t simply read the word, live the word! Even Jesus was different from everything the people had been taught.