The Church should be made for misfits, and be made up of misfits.
When I grew up, I spent some my teen years living in a drug rehabilitation center – since one of my parents had gotten into trouble with drugs. It was a place where we lived together with others searching to be set free of their addictions as well, and learning to adapt to a new life without drugs.
At school, I got asked how I could bear to live together with such “people”: drug addicts (who just had their withdrawal in hospital behind them), convicts, some had debts from their past, a former prostitute, punks, hippies, rockers. What “people”?
To me, they were just that – people, normal people – like me. Of course, each came with their own load of problems, but who of us doesn’t, right? But I felt like I kinda fit right in. Nobody looked at me in weird way. I can’t exactly say the same of the church, which sometimes seems so pre-occupied to fit into the norms, to be and stay acceptable, and well-to-do.
But wasn’t Jesus a misfit, who travelled the country with a band of messed-up misfits? What good can come from Galilee… and fishermen, seriously? Smelly, sweaty, poor, not the best educated – but with the heart in the right place, and willing to follow their Rabbi on the quest to bring the Kingdom of the Heavens on earth. Through His, and their humanity and brokenness, a Revolution began – a Revolution that still continues today.
And as such, the Church should be a place especially for the misfits of society – all those who feel left out, discriminated, left behind, hurt, broken, misunderstood, lonely, seeking – those suffering from all sorts of –isms, the tattooed, the pierced, the punks, the handicapped, the disabled; those who are different from the vast majority and feel like they don’t fit in; the doubters, those who are questioning and wondering… radical love and radical acceptance of each person, as he met them, was Jesus’ attitude. He didn’t bring a bulletin board: I love you, but yada yada yada first you do this and that – he met the person right where she or he was, and showed them a way out of their brokenness, into the Kingdom. He loved everybody the way they were, the way we are.
On the flipside, being a disciple in the ideal should mean being a misfit. The values of the Kingdom are not the same values as those of mainstream society: Peace, justice, reconciliation, equality, healing, forgiveness, openness, hospitality. The Kingdom is about creating a new society within society, within this world, that will serve as transforming agent within this world – a transformation through love: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s what discipleship is about.
I’m not saying “Hey, everybody get tattooed and get into mischief… !” – but as a misfit, the Church is my place to be.