I wrote a book, which is coming out this month. The following is an excerpt…
Recently, while spending a month living in the Italian countryside, I was constantly aware of how much we stood out.
Our strangeness was completely obvious to the locals…
All three of us have blue eyes and pale skin.
We talk like cowboys. I never thought I sounded like a cowboy before, but after hearing an Italian say “ristorante” I was struck with how beautiful, romantic, and poetic the word sounded. Then I said “restaurant” and realized that I could have spit a big wad of tobacco out of my mouth and it would’ve fit perfectly.
We buy ten times the amount of groceries. One day, we went to the same store three times. All their products are packaged in cute little containers (which I think is why Italians are cute and little too). Yeah, people stared at us in the market, and I think I detected smirks on their faces.
When you pay for something in Italy and the cashier has change to give you, they place it in a little change tray on the counter. We are not used to that at all. Every time we expected change, we would stick a hand out waiting for them to put some change in it, and every time, the cashier would bypass the hand and place the change in the tray. It’s rather embarrassing, like a missed high-five or an unwanted kiss.
At one point, I noticed all three of us had our iPhones out.
We were together physically, but totally engrossed in our electronic devices. Distinctly American.
Our clothing and shoes revealed who we were. The touristy maps sold us out. Our strangeness was conspicuous in Italy.
Kingdom of God people are strange too, at least in the eyes of the world. There are dead giveaways—not because of accents or fashion or diet, but because of something more internal.
We run on a different set of core beliefs, priorities, and values…
Our attitude is strange (in a wonderful way).
We are Good News people in a bad news world.
We are full of joy even when life is hard.
We are unshakable.
No matter how dark it gets, we’re always the people of hope.
We aren’t pushing our way to the top, but instead, we’re happy to serve and put ourselves out for others.
We aren’t wasting time living angry. God has been too good to us for that.
We love people, all people. No strings attached. We love because He loved us first.
We don’t obsess over politics because we serve The King and we’re part of His Kingdom.
What we have received from God is so incredibly amazing, we just can’t keep it to ourselves. We’ve got to share it!
Religious people tend to make things strange externally, through special clothing and vocabulary, and hairstyles… outward things. Jesus didn’t do that.
He looked like everyone else. He spent time hanging out with regular people. He spoke in the common, everyday language. He didn’t stand out because of his appearance or circle of friends or special vocabulary.
In fact, when Judas sold Jesus out, he had to indicate to the soldiers which person Jesus was in the crowd. Judas kissed Jesus on the cheek, identifying Him as the one to arrest. Jesus didn’t look different from everyone else; He didn’t have a messiah hair cut or special clothing. He was certainly strange, but not because of external things.
Yes, Kingdom of God people are easily identifiable.
We stand out. Even though we shop at the same stores, wear the same clothes, and listen to the same music, something is different about us and people notice. Our strangeness is obvious. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of them are smirking at us right now.