Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Matthew 5:44,46
In high school, I had a lot of friends and was pretty likeable, but still, I was socially awkward. I was an amiable dork (shocker, I know). Like most teenagers, I just wanted to fit in, and I was quite sensitive to whatever I felt set me apart. I wanted to be normal, felt I wasn’t, and just didn’t quite know how to fix it. This bothered me.
Most of us can identify with this. As a teenager, it’s natural to want to fit in with our peers. Unfortunately, the desire to conform to the world doesn’t often lead us in the direction we need to go. Even now as adults, though we claim to be Christians, we don’t really want to be known as religious fanatics. We just want to be nice, normal people. We want to be Christians who blend in with those around us. We don’t want to stand out as nuts or zealots.
In the Sermon on the Mount though, Jesus repeatedly taught that following him would radically set us apart from the world. He insisted that as Christians, we must love our enemies. It’s not enough just to love friends and family. Everyone does that. As followers of Christ, we must be so different, that we actually love our enemies and we must pray for those who would do evil to us.
This is hard to do, and it certainly won’t help us blend in with the world. We’re not called to blend in though. Jesus isn’t interested in making camouflage Christians. He calls us to be radically different from the world so that others will see our behavior and know whom we follow.
Not everyone will be impressed. There’s a reason we like to fit in. Standing out often leads to ridicule and unpopularity. Living for our own status though, will never lead to the life, faith, and recovery that we need. If we want those things, then we must abandon our need to fit in and we must commit to radical obedience to Jesus’ strange way of life.