Recently I made some muffins. The only problem was that I didn’t have a muffin tin, and the tin I did have was too small for the muffin cases. Being stubborn I carried on regardless. The muffins broke the mould, they grew bigger than the holes meant to contain them. They tasted fine, but came out all shapes and sizes. Most of them didn’t look like muffins. But they all tasted like muffins, sort of.
Last year my church worked through the book of Matthew, as part of that I had the privilege of writing accompanying Bible notes. To help myself with this endeavour I gained inspiration (plagiarised) from Tom Wright’s ‘Everyone’ series. I thought that reading through Matthew would be a bit routine; a familiar stroll down well read chapters and verses. But I discovered something as I set about my task, I discovered that I didn’t know Jesus at all.
The Jesus I met through returning to these pages was a revolutionary, and I realised that I was a Pharisee. At points on this journey I found that my preconceptions, my assumptions and things that I had been taught from various preachers and churches were totally wrong. I expected Jesus to fit the muffin tin, to look like a muffin, but He quite literally broke the mould. If my image of Jesus, as a Christian of 23 years, is so wrong how do people who aren’t familiar with the Bible see Him?
And how do those people who don’t know Jesus see me? What assumptions do they make about me when they find out I follow Jesus? At work the people who know I am a Christian seem to leap on me every time I fail to live up to their image of a Christian. As though being a Christian excludes me from joining in with their activities. Just as Jesus doesn’t look like I thought He should, I don’t look the way my colleagues think I should.
I guess the question is – is the real me a more attractive life than the me they think I should be? Well no, often at work I take the easy options of joining in with gossip, crude talk, and swearing. The sad truth is that my colleagues are not the only ones who expect to see something else when they look at me. My church friends join them.
And so I am caught, trapped, beached, boxed in. By what? By my own need to be accepted, to be loved, to be thought of as cool. So I play up to which ever crowd I find myself in, temporarily empathising with their current moods, and I am lost.
The irony is that I still can’t win, my friends from work chide me with comments like ‘I thought you were meant to go to church!’ every time my behaviour crosses lines they believe a church person shouldn’t cross. And it cuts me to the bone. Not only do I fail Jesus, but I fail them, I fail myself. Perhaps they are looking to see someone not give into the frustrations of the work place, perhaps they are looking for someone to have something more about them. Perhaps I’m being hard on myself and they are just looking to mock.
I want to be a better Christian, to be a better person. And that person will break the mold, he might not look like what people think a Christian should look like, but then again neither did Jesus. From now on when people question my behaviour saying ‘I thought you were meant to be a Christian’ I want it to be because I have broken their expectations for the right reasons, not because I’ve sworn or made a crude comment, but because I am giving them a glimpse of how a Christian should be, a glimpse of Jesus.