Eccentric Christians

Eccentric Christians

By Rodney W. Francis

Some mothers do have them!
Have you ever thought that you were different to others?
That your concepts are sometimes a bit "way out"?
Especially since you became a Christian?
Maybe you are one of God's eccentrics?

  • What is an eccentric? The word means:
    "1. deviating or departing from convention, especially in a bizarre manner; irregular or odd. 2. situated away from the centre or the axis . . . 5. a person who deviates from normal forms of behaviour, especially in a bizarre manner" (Collins Dictionary).

  • "1. odd or capricious ("unpredictable") in behaviour or appearance; whimsical; unconventional, unusual, peculiar, strange, far-out, offbeat, unorthodox, cranky, oddball" (Reader's Digest Oxford Complete Wordfinder).

What a choice of words! When we look at the meanings of "eccentric" we can see that there is plenty of room for diversity. The questions to be asked are: 

  • Is it okay for a Christian to be eccentric?

  • Does being eccentric hinder or help what God wants to do in the earth today?

  • Does the Bible present to us any Christian eccentrics?

The answers to those questions has to be: "Yes," "Help" and "Yes"! I believe the Bible includes numbers of people I would call eccentric. Let's consider some:

NOAH certainly was! (Genesis 6:14-22; Hebrews 11:7).
He built an ark at a time when rain was unknown on the earth.

ABRAHAM was! (Hebrews 11:8).
He went out by faith (taking his wife with him), not knowing where he was going!

SARAH was! (Hebrews 11:11-12).
She believed in a promise from God that was an impossibility! It happened anyway. At 90 years of age she became a mother!

JOSHUA was!
He believed the walls of Jericho would fall down (Joshua 6) and the sun would stand still if he would speak to it (Joshua 10:12-14). He did - and they did!

ADONI-BEZEK was! (Judges 1:4-7).
He was the king who cut off the thumbs and big toes of 70 lesser kings and made them serve him. Can you imagine those guys hobbling about, struggling to keep their balance? But he reaped what he sowed. When he was caught by Judah, they did to him what he did to the 70 kings. They cut off his thumbs and big toes. He died.

Heber's wife JAEL was! (Judges 4:17-24).
She was the lady who fastened Sisera, the captain of the host of Canaan, to the tent floor with a hammer and big nail!

GIDEON was! (Judges 6:36-40).
Especially with regards the fleece. And God co-operated with him!

SAMSON was!

  • He tore a young lion up like it was a piece of rotten rag (Judges 14:5-6).

  • He caught 300 foxes, tied them tail to tail, set fire to them (the tails!) and let them run through the corn fields of the Philistines (Judges 15:4-5).

  • He slew 1,000 men with the jawbone of an ass! (Judges 15:14-16). How unconventional can you be?

  • He carried the doors of the gate of Gaza on his shoulders and trotted to the top of a hill! (Judges 16:3).

DAVID was!

  • He went out against the Philistine giant and champion, Goliath, with a sling shot! (1 Samuel 17:40-51).

  • He paid a dowry of 200 foreskins of the Philistines to the king and his future father-in-law (Saul) for his daughter Michal! (1 Samuel 18:20-27). Saul had only asked for 100! I wonder how he presented them to the king and future father-in-law? On a silver tray, or individually packaged?? What a wedding present! (What's your wife/husband worth in terms of a dowry?)

  • He feigned madness in King Achish's presence: So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard. Achish said to his servants, "Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?" (1 Samuel 21:13-15, NIV).

  • "We already have enough of them around here!" (1 Samuel 21:15, TLB). How's that for being eccentric?

ELIJAH was!

  • He dressed unconventionally: "He was a hairy man," they replied, "with a wide leather belt" (2 Kings 1:8, TLB).

  • He suddenly appeared before Ahab the king of Israel, and declared: "As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word" (1 Kings 17:1, NIV). Can you picture the scene? A weird, hardly dressed, total stranger, standing before the king saying "No dew and no rain until I say so!" Then he was gone! Ahab treated him as a "nut case" and dismissed Elijah's words totally. The problem was that what Elijah said was true and his statement brought the nation to its knees through the resulting drought (1 Kings 17 and 18).

  • When Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal to a public "show down" to prove Who was the real God, he was so sure of his God (and himself) that he was able to taunt the enemy: About noon time, Elijah began mocking them. "You'll have to shout louder than that," he scoffed, "to catch the attention of your god! Perhaps he is talking to someone, or is out sitting on the toilet, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be awakened!" (1 Kings 18:27, TLB). Here was one man - a Christian, a prophet - standing before hundreds of Baal priests who are trying to invoke their god to answer, and Elijah makes mocking, derogatory statements to them about Baal.

  • Then, when one woman (Jezebel) threatened to kill Elijah (after he had just killed up to 850 prophets of Baal), fear gripped him and he ran for his life! (1 Kings 19:1-4). That's eccentric.(The fear of man is one thing - the fear of woman is entirely another!)

ELISHA was! (2 Kings 5).
When Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram (NIV), arrived at Elisha's door to be healed of leprosy, Elisha did not go to the door and say, "Hello, Welcome, Do you want prayer?" . . . or anything like that. He sent his servant to the honourable Naaman with the message: "Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean" (2 Kings 5:10, AMP.). The fact of Naaman's nobility made no difference to Elisha. He simply sent his servant with the message, "Go jump in the Jordan River - seven times to be precise!"Naaman really re-acted to that! But once he had been calmed down, he humbled himself, washed seven times and was totally healed!

EZEKIEL was! (Ezekiel 4, NIV).
He was told to take a clay tablet, put it in front of him and draw the map of Jerusalem on it. Then he was to lay siege to it, erect siege works against it and put battering rams around it, etc. After that he lay on his left side for 390 days to bear the sins of Israel, and then on his right side for 40 days for the sins of Judah. He was to cook his food, using human excrement for fuel! Ezekiel protested loudly about that and God allowed him to use cow manure instead! Eccentric? You'd be right.

HOSEA was! (Hosea 1).
He was told to go marry a prostitute and raise a family with her!

JOHN THE BAPTIST was!

  • He was very unconventional in his clothing tastes:  "John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist" (Matthew 3:4, NIV). John was no "respectable three-piece suit and ties" man!

  • His eating habits were quite simple too. He lived on a smorgasbord of "locusts and wildhoney" (Matthew 3:4, NIV).

  • His ministry was totally different to anything else of his day, and the crowds flocked to hear him and to be baptized in water.

PETER was! (Matthew 14:22-33).
He actually believed he could walk on water at the word of Jesus! And he did! Before you say, "Yes, but he began to sink, didn't he?" just remember all the other disciples "felt led" to play it safe by staying firmly seated in the boat! Peter was willing to have a go - to be different, while the others just watched.

PAUL was!
A quick overview of his life tells us he was quite an eccentric.

  • When he got beaten up and thrown into jail he started singing at midnight (Acts 16:16-34).

  • When a violent mob tried to kill him, he stood and shared his testimony with them (Acts 21:27-40; Acts 22).

And what a testimony! Listen to parts of it:
"They brag that they are Hebrews, do they? Well, so am I. And they say that they are Israelites, God's chosen people? So am I. And they are descendants of Abraham? Well, I am too. They say they serve Christ? But I have served Him far more! (Have I gone mad to boast like this?) I have worked harder, been put in jail oftener, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me their terrible thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I was in the open sea all night and the whole next day. I have travelled many weary miles and have been often in great danger from flooded rivers, and from robbers, and from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the hands of the Gentiles. I have faced grave dangers from mobs in the cities and from death in the deserts and in the stormy seas and from men who claim to be brothers in Christ but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food; often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the constant worry of how the churches are getting along . . . " (2 Corinthians 11:22-33, TLB).

Paul experienced all those things because of his fervent love for, and commitment to, Christ!(What do we experience for our fervent love for, and commitment to, Christ?) Or, Was Paul an unwise eccentric? Whatever you decide he was, his life has made such an impact that it still continues to minister to millions of Christians, even in our present generation!

Now, before you push these examples aside by saying, "God told them to do the things they did," please remember that, yes it is true God spoke to them. But the people they ministered to, mixed with and moved amongst, judged them by their words and actions. The people didn't know God was speaking to the afore-named individuals.

They honestly thought Noah was mad!
They thought Abraham and Sarah were senile!
They thought Joshua was strange, thinking the walls of Jericho would fall down!
And Adoni-bezek? What a weirdo!
Jael was a brave woman, but she did a very unwomanly thing by nailing Sisera's head to the tent floor!
Was Gideon eccentric? He dictated to God about what should happen with the fleece and the dew!
The Philistines thought Samson was a raving lunatic! Nevertheless they kept a healthy respect of him at the same time.
And what about David? He tried to set a new trend for wedding presents, but no one else wanted foreskins as a dowry!
Elijah certainly was not afraid to be different.
Nor Elisha!
And what can we say about Ezekiel, and Hosea? (We'll leave that to your imagination).
John the Baptist not only dressed "funny," he ate "funny" too. He was such a "straight-shooter" that he brought conviction, then repentance into the hearts of many.
Peter we all know about - impulsive, up and down. But don't forget he became a great apostle!
And, finally Paul? We Christians love his writings. His lifestyle we're not so sure about. Perhaps he was too eccentric for us to follow his example. I mean, most of us wouldn't survive living like he did!

What we need to look at is: Did those Bible eccentrics accomplish anything more than those who "chose to play it conventional and safe?" I believe they did! They are the heroes of faith who dared to be different.
What about you?
How's your Christian life?
Is it boring, sterile and mechanical? Or is it exciting, challenging and upsetting others?
Instead of making excuses and feeling sorry for yourself because "you're different," why not use your eccentricity to make a mark for Jesus? He is our Leader and perhaps the greatest eccentric of all!
Eccentric Christians?
Yes, and the world needs to be impacted by more of them! Sign up today

"The Gospel Faith Messenger" Ministry.  PO Box 57, Paraparaumu 5254, New Zealand.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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