People are strange when you’re a stranger

Jim Morrison, the famed frontman for The Doors, was depressed. He went to guitarist Bobby Krieger’s house to try and cheer up. Nothing was working. Krieger and Morrison took off for a canyon to watch the sunset. It was during this evening Jim Morrison realized what was upsetting him. He felt like a stranger and an outcast in society. According to Krieger, it was at that canyon Jim Morrison made the statement, “If you’re strange, people are strange.” This was the genesis for the song, “People are Strange.” [1] Jim Morrison was looking for a place to belong. He was looking for what the church has to offer and just didn’t know it.

I’m convinced church people are strange to those outside the church. The chorus, “People are strange when you’re a stranger” accurately describes the church to someone outside the faith. Let’s say you didn’t know anything about church. Imagine you’ve never even heard the word “church” before in your life, when a friend invites you to come with him to a church service. Can you remember what was going through your mind the very first time you ever sat through a church service? I suspect you walked in with eyes wide open. You probably tried to figure out what unites this group of very different looking people.

If you only look at church people with your eyes, it should be difficult to figure out what makes this group tick. Church people probably look different in age, in gender, and in color of skin from one another. So, what unites this diverse group of people? I think that can’t be answered with your eyes. That question can only be answered with your ears.

What makes different people one

What you hear at church should immediately point to what unites this diverse group of people. The church exists to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose for the church is to give Jesus the worship he deserves. When you enter most church services, you should hear voices singing in unison of Jesus’ greatness. You should hear a sermon that describes how Jesus answers the problems with which all human beings deal. It is the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ that unites strange people into one church.

Jesus himself said he will draw all manner of people to himself when he is the center of their worship (John 12:32). The church should look different than your fraternity or sorority. The church should sound different than Toastmasters or Rotary International. The church should act different than the United Way or Greenpeace International. When Jesus created his church, he created something unique. Here are three very simple things that make the church unique:

A special group

When the Apostle Peter was describing the church, he used language that makes them different. At its essence, Peter wanted the church to know they are a special group of people in 1 Peter 2:9. Your past, present, and future all changed when you were bought by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. You entered into a new family. That family is described by Peter as the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A select group

Peter makes it clear that you didn’t choose this family; this family chose you. 1 Peter 2:10 says the church was called out from among others in order to bring God glory. Peter suggests God did for his church what they could not do for themselves. God entered into a relationship with people through the blood of his son, Jesus. Those people covered by the blood of Jesus are the church. The church is the family of God.

A set apart group

The family of God is special. The family of God is a very select group. The family of God is also set apart for a special work. Peter describes this special work in 1 Peter 2:11. He refers to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ as temporary travelers. They are here on earth for a short journey. Along the journey, the church is supposed to walk differently than other travelers. The church should abstain from the things that lead them into sin. The church is called to wage war against the things that would tempt their soul away from Jesus.

What these strange people demonstrate

Others take notice when the church starts to live differently in their midst. I hope when people walk into the doors of your church, they see something strange. I hope they see people trying to live pure lives for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope people observe your church Monday through Saturday see people trying to live in community with one another.

Jesus describes it this way in Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” The idea here is that the church lives out their faith in front of a lost community. The church lives in such a way that the community wants what the church has to offer. Think about it this way; the church has the mission to live a life for which the city is longing.


Further reading

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