The Lone Rangers

10 points if you get the movie reference in the title, anyway…

Stephanie said something on Facebook earlier today about how there should be an island for us “misfit Christians,” to which the idea was added that cheap rum would abound there, so I’ve obviously already booked my ticket! She’s right though, and we find ourselves, along with many of you, kind of out in the cold, when it comes to our views and how those views impact the way we are understood by other people.

Most people think that I’m just a dick. They are about 98% right, but I think that part of my dissent of popular views, maybe 2% or even less, but at least a small part, has something to do with a true desire to follow Christ. That is me, there are lots of other people who have views that conflict with the norms of the modern church, and, unlike myself, lots of these other people, including my wife, are very nice, but still find themselves ostracized either openly or, in most cases, a little more quietly by just kinda getting left out of things and not being invited to things and not being talked to or responded to or taken seriously. It is unfortunate.

What I think can make this whole thing especially lonely is that you don’t really fit in anywhere. People have said to me that my views make it easy for me to fit in with everyone, but I find it quite the opposite in reality. It’s like people might think that atheists like me because I don’t agree with lots of mainstream Christian prejudices, and generally it is true that I get along with “casual” agnostics or those who have a general apathy for religious topics, but when the conversation turns to what we think about God, especially in the case of the more passionate atheist, things don’t go so well. I am passionate and I am passionate about God and what I understand of His truth, so we butt heads. An atheist may think, “oh yeah, there’s another Christian, go home to your Christian friends!” but, again, although I share many views with most Christians, many do not want to have much to do with me. Honestly, I try to avoid making big scenes talking about the things that we disagree about, but I have a reputation and these things come up and I am not shy to disagree with others when these topics come up. So, no friends in the Christian camp and no friends in the atheist camp.

Conservative Christians see me as a liberal. Liberal Christians see me as a Fundamentalist. Catholics see me as too Protestant, and Protestants see me as too Catholic. Some see my view of salvation as too open, others as too closed. Some see my views on alcohol too lose, and others too prudish. This list could go on forever, but you get the idea. Sometimes it feels like you just don’t fit with anybody, because everyone seems to want to focus on the things you don’t agree on, or lots of people can’t have a disagreement and not have it destroy a friendship. I can live with this, and I know that I like to argue and that can really turn people away. I am not offended by this or usually not even hurt by it. But, the thing is, on the island of misfits there are lots of great people with lots of love and good cooking and encouragement and ideas that would benefit everyone on the mainland and it makes me sad to see those people ignored on all sides.

_________________________

    12 comments

      • Dan Allen

        and THAT is the whole point! Friendships should transcend our differences, and, ideally, not in a way that ignores the differences, but in a way that enables us to learn from each other in those areas where we have different views, and (scary thought) maybe do some growing as a result!

    1. Rob Morley

      Banished by us, Jesus would probably hang out on that island too. And, there He would pour out His love on those who come and then send them back to those still trapped in the harshness of cold religion, rejection and an empty world to share that love with them.

      While we were His enemies Christ died for us. Let’s ask Him for that love so that we can go the extra mile for all around us!

      God bless!

    2. Alan Knox

      Dan,

      Your last point is so important:

      “But, the thing is, on the island of misfits there are lots of great people with lots of love and good cooking and encouragement and ideas that would benefit everyone on the mainland and it makes me sad to see those people ignored on all sides.”

      I’m still learning this lesson, and I’m trying, trying to listen to anyone that God brings into my life. And, I’m also careful about listening to people who are not actually part of my life and whose life I cannot witness. (If that makes sense…)

      -Alan

    3. Tom Schultz

      I can identify with your description…somehow many of our church ‘friends’ must see us as either too radical or else having too many problems…or living too far away. The need for fellowship in the true sense remains, and our spiritual and emotional health requires actively fighting the isolation. The ‘extra mile’ seems to require inviting people back multiple times rather than waiting for them to return the first invitation, and continuing to haunt groups and meetings where we feel ignored and hurt. Its not easy but personally necessary.

    4. Gary Harris

      The only thing I would caution against is this. Don’t start thinking: “Whoa is me. I don’t fit in anywhere. All the mainstream Christians are against me. If they don’t think like I do then they must be against me. Follow me all you misfit Christians! Follow me to the place where people want to have real fellowship with God! Follow me to the place where people want to have a real relationship with Jesus! Forget all those mainstream people, because they don’t want us around anyway. We’re the heretics, and they want nothing to do with us.” That’s dangerous in so many ways that I don’t have the time or space to enumerate them all. But the primary way is that you’ll start thinking that you and your band of misfits are the only true believers, and you’ll be no better off than those who you believe to be ostracizing you.

      • Dan Allen

        Gary, did you see that I felt this same response from liberal Christians? This is more about just feeling lonely because the things you hold to are not popular with others, it is not a badge, it is a reality. If a fundamentalist wants to be my friend and share ideas with me, I am all about that! And, if that same person disagrees with me, I’m totally fine with that too. If that person wants nothing to do with me because we don’t agree, that is disappointing. This isn’t about excluding anyone, it is about feeling lonely when excluded.

        • Dan Allen

          p.s. in Rudolf the folks on the island get off the island, right? They are eventually appreciated for what they bring to the table. They don’t shoot Santa out of the sky with a rocket launcher because he’s a “normal” and not part of their group.

          • Gary Harris

            Haha! Yeah, but that rocket launcher thing would have made for a better show! I get what you’re saying, and I think that’s awesome. I was just throwing out a danger, not just to you, but also to others who may not be as grounded as you are. I know how you feel. I don’t believe in paid pastors. I don’t believe in programs. I don’t believe in tithing. I don’t believe in worship services. I don’t believe in children’s church or nurseries. I don’t believe in million dollar facilities. I may not even believe in inerrancy (not really sure yet). I see no problem with the responsible consumption of alcohol. I don’t consider myself mainstream, but I don’t feel lonely and/or alienated. I don’t feel discriminated against for my beliefs. This is primarily due to the fact that I fellowship on a regular basis with people who generally feel the same way about these things…with the possible exception of the inerrancy thing. But, I know many awesome Christians who believe in all of those things! Not only do I know them, but I love them, and they love me! We don’t agree, but we talk and fellowship together. Some don’t, but there’s no pleasing everyone, right? At any rate, I don’t want you to feel lonely and excluded. I want you to feel like you’re part of a living breathing vibrant body of Christ! I don’t want you to feel like a misfit. I want you to feel wanted, loved, and appreciated. I believe that it takes a tightly knit fellowship for that. Are you part of a strong fellowship of believers?

    Post a comment