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“I want to be different…”

This weekend I posted something that apparently lacked some clarity and resulted in a firestorm of misunderstanding that really pained my heart and frustrated my mind.  I think it was a good thing for me, though.  It exposed a few things to me: a little bit of pride, and a little bit of hypocrisy.

Before I was living for the Lord, I took great delight in trying to make christians feel dumb.  I believed in the Trinity.  I believe the Bible was the infalible word of God.  I believed that the church (as I has experience it) was a political, hypocritical mess that was nothing like Jesus - so I studied the Word, not with the “open mind” that our culture tries to put so much value on, but with the purpose of finding things I could use against christians.

On the other side, I was very big into music and the local music scene, which was dominated by punk rock.  The kind of punk rock that hated all other types of music, hated religion, hated any type of conformity, hated politicians - well… it hated.  Although I shared I similar hatred for conformity, I also felt the need to go-out-of-my-way to demonstrate the fact that I didn’t care about what people thought of my style of dress, hair, music, etc.  So much so that I even took delight in pointing out the differences between myself and this punk culture.

 One time while doing a sound check between bands at an underground punk club in Fort Smith (”The Old 700 Club”), I said from the microphone,

“I want to be different just like you guys.”
I then expounded,
“If you refuse to wear Guess, Varnet, Reebok, or Swatch,” (I’m aging myself), “just because ‘the preps’ wear them - you are letting them control you… they’re actually controlling what you wear and don’t wear… think about it.”

I probably didn’t make any friends that day, nor did I get any applause for my brief flicker as a Punk Philosopher.

I guess I say all of that to illustrate the fact that I am just like those punks.  In my consciousness of making sure I was “so different” that people had to respect and notice that I truly was a non-conformist, my actions were being ruled by pride, and by what other people thought about me.

When the firestorm erupted this weekend, and I was getting acused of all kinds of things that are completely against my real heart, it frustrated my mind and hurt my pride long before it broke my heart.  I have worked so hard to make sure people knew (especially youth and young adults) that I absolutely was not the stereotypical, hypocritical, judgemental, holier-than-thou christian.  Yet, in one crazy misunderstanding, I was being branded as one by an entire scene in my own hometown.  While struggling with how I could possibly convince people of my real heart, and how what they were saying was completely out-of-whack with what I had actually said or meant, I realized, “I’m not really trying to clear this up so that one day I can be an effective witness to them,” or anything lovely and spiritual like that.  I realized that I was trying to clear it up because I couldn’t stand the thought that someone might not like me - multiplied exponentially by the fact that it was over something that wasn’t even true.

So, although I did feel completely compelled to apologize and try to make amends, I did so out of just feeling the need to do so out of decency, because I had to first come to grips with my thoughts about these words of Jesus:

“You will be persecuted for My name’s sake.  Because they hate Me, they will hate you.”

The reason they were able to misinterpret what I said so readily is because they were judging me because I bear the name “Christian”.  And, even though I am not the stereotypically christian they have come to know and hate; and even though the Christ himself is not at all what they think or see personified in most american christians… I cannot worry about people liking me or accepting me - even the people that I feel the most connection and similarities with.  I wouldn’t care if it was some mainly denominational First Socio-Political Church of Your Hometown that was hating on me; but when it’s the people that the Lord has wired me to love and connect with, and used as a part of my very fashioning and molding for His purposes in my life - it destroyed me.

So, here I am - a little smaller than I was last week.

Thank you, Lord - for I must decrease so that You may increase.


Comment from Nick Weisenfels
Time: July 11, 2007, 10:56 am

yes, yes…I am the first and greatest sinner. I know the feeling well. I think that’s exactly where we should be, though.

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