Alright, I have to admit something totally embarrassing… it’s embarrassing because I don’t think most people would peg me for being this kind of a guy… but here goes… I really dig the show Project Runway… there I’ve said it… I should note that there is a pretty major writer’s strike going on in Hollywood, so the stock pile of quality television is at a minimum right now, and since I don’t like Donald Trump and American Gladiators sounds a bit too… well, dumb… Project Runway it is. I also want to make it clear that I’m not obsessed with the show nor do I dive into it the way I do, say Lost… but it is great fun to watch on a Wednesday night. I like the challenges, the design elements, and yes the eliminations… it’s just fun to watch people being creative and enjoying that process. But the bottom line is I’m a red-blooded, American, heterosexual male and Project Runway is about fashion… it’s almost a paradox that could disrupt the space/time continuum…
It’s funny how much our actions are dictated by the “rules” of society. If a guy likes to shop or watch fashion programs he’s considered effeminate. If a women likes to work on cars and drink beer she’s considered hyper-masculine. (Note: I am intentionally using politically correct language, because much harsher things are said in these situations.) A person who likes computer technology is considered somewhat of a “nerd”. Someone who spends much of their time reading is considered intellectual. Someone who wears oversized sweats in public is a “fashion victim” (that’s the Project Runway talking). Someone is passionate about a cause is a radical. Someone who abstains from politics all together is apathetic… and we could go on and on and on… Ultimately, the vast majority of people are after one thing: normalcy. And normalcy equals right down the middle average. Or as Goldilocks puts it, “Not too hot, not too cold… but just right.”
There are a growing number of people, however, to whom normal will not cut. Normal is death, to these people. They want to do what they want to do regardless of “social norms” and to an extent I applaud these people. To an extent. Different for the sake of different is of no use. But different with a purpose is powerful. Christ modeled that philosophy throughout His ministry. He railed against the “social norms” that had crippled the culture He was living in and called people to more radical devotion to the God they claimed to serve (Matthew 5-7). He never minced words with those that sought to keep the people in their place, but challenged the authorities of His day. People accused Him of being a drunk and a glutton (Matthew 11:19). He was highly misunderstood, and people were constantly abandoning Him because He was just too passionate and too out-there in His approach (John 6:60-70). But His difference was always with a purpose. He wanted people to not rely on their customs or traditions but to rely on God and to look to Him as their source of comfort. He saw the motivations of many of the leaders and challenged their selfishness. He was willing to be thought of as abnormal in order to demonstrate love to the drunks, and the prostitutes.
Too many people live their lives just trying to be normal. Too many people live their lives trying NOT to be normal. But both can be equally pointless. God calls us to live lives that are set a part… that are different, but with a purpose. Romans 12:1-2,
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. The Message.
We should look around us. Have we so bought into being an American that we forget what it means to be called by God? Do we try to be so different that we’ll try anything that we lose sight of the really differences we should try to make? Cultural influence can have both effects, but our goal should be to allow Christ’s influence to rule our lives.