Smyrna: The Weird Church
For pretty much as long as God has been interacting with humanity, religious people have been weird. You can go all the way back to Noah, whom God told to build a boat… in the middle of dry ground… when it had never rained. That’s weird, right?
Or Abram, when God told him to pick up and move, with no clear direction. Gideon raised an army then sent 90% of them home. The prophet Isaiah once walked around naked for three years because God told him to. Ezekiel cooked food over cowpies (after negotiating with God down from human waste).
Jesus himself traveled with an entourage of men and women – something not done in his days, that raised more than a few eyebrows. He was unapologetically nomadic, rather than maintaining a base like most rabbis in his day did. He hung out not with respectable people, but the scum and riff-raff of his society.
Paul got kicked out of most of the cities where he tried to plant churches.
There was a woman in the early church named Thecla who baptized herself (because no one else would) and who followed Paul around preaching, instead of getting married and settling down like everyone wanted her to.
It didn’t stop after the New Testament either. There was St. Francis of Assisi who famously stopped in his travels to preach to animals. And in more modern times, our own denomination made a name for itself by, among other things, refusing to go to the circus or watch movies (thank God that’s not still a thing!).
Sometimes, Christians are counter-cultural in amazing ways – like the Christians who sat at lunch counters to protest against racial injustice or those at our Southern border today working with families separated from each other.
Other times, Christians are just weird – like the guys who handle snakes. Which begs the question: if following Jesus makes us different, how exactly are we supposed to be different?