04 January 2010


'You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd' (Flannery O'Connor).

I have been reflecting on this statement for quite a while, particularly because I think that it is so true that it is difficult to explain. There are so many ways that it captures the essence of genuine spirituality, even if that fundamental distinction is lost on modern evangelicalism. Although it is true that at various points throughout the history of Christianity there have been moments of great moral and spiritual defiance of secularism, accommodation seems to have won over much of the current generation of believers.

Are there identifiable issues which the church uses to distinguish itself from culture, or have we become so engrossed in our inherent need to participate in the world that Christianity has compromised itself? If we are to hold to a lifestyle of holiness, then we must understand that holiness is essentially otherness - this is what we imply (among other things) when we say that God is holy, that he is completely other and separate from us. How is it possible for us to participate both in the otherness of God while having the sameness of the world which runs opposite his character and truth?

This is why God's truth demands that we become rather odd. Yet we are not to become peculiar in the sense that we can be easily dismissed by our culture. Instead, we are to be odd in that our perspective is not the same and our truth appeals to a higher authority. And perhaps we now find why so many of the patriarchs and prophets and saints were considered odd themselves. It all began with the odd fellow who said that it was going to rain, and then built an ark.

In the midst of a culture which is promoting death and destruction, the oddity of the church is to stand for life and liberty for the whole person. This is not a political statement, though it has political ramifications; it is not a moral statement, yet it demands every aspect of our morality; it is not a cultural statement, though its assertions will shake the foundations of our culture. It is a spiritual statement which encompasses all of who we are supposed to be.

And in an age where Christians are finding accommodation of their faith and (what is infinitely worse) the gospel of the kingdom of God, it is time for the truth to make us odd once more.

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