Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes it’s overt. One thing you can be sure of is that it is nearly always there.
That’s a good answer but not what I meant. (Plus, if you’re reading from the international space station, you are acutely aware that air isn’t everywhere.)
I’m talking about the pressure to be like everyone else.
Clothes, shoes, phrasing—if there isn’t a strict dress code or code of conduct, humans still end up establishing some kind of groupthink standard that you are subconsciously expected to conform to.
Jesus people are no different.
I’ve spent lots of time with groups of Jesus people from lots of different places: different churches, different radio stations, different youth groups, and different schools. Aside from Jesus, they all had one thing in common: different standards.
One group I spent time with believed that a certain type of music was “satanic.” The lyrics? The people? No. The “style.” Certain beats and certain instruments were straight from hell. I’ve heard that exact phrase. It’s rough when you have a “Christian” music collection at home that wouldn’t meet a church’s standards.
Another group told me that action figures (ya know, toys) that I had at home were idols that I would end up praying to.
Still another thought it was wrong that I wore funny t-shirts.
My favorite: I wasn’t “serious” enough.
This is a short list. I could go on with all the different ways that different groups of Jesus people have felt that I fall short across the years.
Jesus didn’t feel that way. According to Him, I fit right in. He wants me around (action figures, music, and all).
Read this from Ephesians 4:6-7. It’s a letter written to a group of Christians in a city called Ephesus. (in the Message, emphasis mine):
Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.
Any time someone grabs a tiny chunk of Scripture, you should go back and read the stuff around it, so PLEASE take time and read all of Ephesians 4 (or the whole letter).
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. It says it right there. Jesus loves each of us and made each of us. We’re going to be different. We’ll have different styles of dress and different senses of humor and that is OKAY.
Of course there is one thing I need to mention: God doesn’t want us to keep living a lifestyle that is hurting ourselves or hurting others so if your idea of being “you” is running over people who disagree with you with your car, then you can expect some resistance. There are things that Jesus explicitly lays out as “wrong” and vehicular manslaughter is on that list. (Not specifically, but “murder” is, and that qualifies.) Jesus doesn’t want us living an amoral life with no standards. Love for Him and each other will always be a thing.
Some people won’t like that your outsides are a little different. Some people will try to make you change to be more like them. Politely excuse yourself and find a new group of people. Jesus accepts all the weirdos (me) and regular people, and In the end, that’s all that really matters.