Pastor Ricky Stoner Youth Pastor

Pastor Ricky Stoner
Youth Pastor

When was the last time someone asked you about your faith?

As I was driving down Soledad listening to Francis Chan read his book Multiply he asked me the same. I almost allowed it to move through one ear and out the other, but something stopped me and I really asked myself that question.

As a Pastor the answer seemed obvious at first because I talk about my faith all the time, but that wasn’t the question. The question was when was the last time someone ASKED about my faith, not when was the last time I TOLD someone about my faith. This struck me because I can’t remember the last time my life was different enough from the people around me that someone had to stop and ask.

Jesus says in John 13:35 | “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” I think Jesus is talking about something that is inherently different about His followers that causes the world to stop and stare.

I was recently talking with a parent of a UTURNer about the way that the next generation communicates primarily through text. We were discussing tongue-in-cheek how youth will text the most intimate details about their life but if you ask them to make a phone call they say it’s awkward.

Though that convo begged some interesting implications, what I found interesting was that the culture social media breeds is one that we don’t talk to people directly anymore. We message them on Facebook or mention them in a comment on Instagram but to directly engage someone in a conversation is uncomfortable and even approaching a stranger is a social taboo.

So how does this apply to Francis’ question? If Jesus’ words and commands were intended to transcend thousands of years and even different cultures then are we living in such a way that people break the social “norms” in order to find out what it is about our lives that is different?

Am I peculiar enough for someone to engage in an “awkward” conversation because they need to know what is different about me?

Does the love I have for the people around me look so radically different-- than just a nice guy-- that people stop and stare?

As the questions flooded my mind I came to a red light and looked at the people in the next car. I asked myself: would the woman in the white Prius next to me were to look over now, would she know that I follow Jesus?

I realize that such a short interaction, like one at a red light, isn’t enough to spark up a conversation about our deep theological need for a Savior, or even exchange anything more than maybe a smile. But why is that the case? Why can I drive from Canyon Country to Valencia and no one would know that I have the best news in the history of the planet sitting inside of a Mini Cooper? What could I do that would show people that I am filled with the Love of God?

As I arrived at my destination (an undisclosed coffee shop in Valencia) this question was bugging me. So I did something crazy, something radical, something WAY outside the social norm (sarcasm implied). As I came up to the counter to order my drink I decided to buy coffee for the few people in line behind me. A simple gesture that got me some funny looks from the guy behind the counter and even stranger looks from the people behind me, as they no doubt changed their “normal” order to something with a little more extravagant (if he’s paying why not get that extra shot).

Now I am not saying that Jesus said that being a Christian is as simple as paying for someone’s coffee. But something happened, people said their obligatory thank you’s and with puzzled looks shook my hand and grabbed their coffee and went on with their days. As everyone left and I settled into answering emails the guy behind the counter came up and interrupted me. He gestured for me to take my headphones off, fully invading my private work time and said, “Thank you for doing that, that was really cool of you. I've never seen anyone do that. Can I ask why you did that?” He broke the social norm of privacy, he even asked me to remove the headphones that keep the rest of the world out. He was so curious that he pushed past the awkwardness of the moment and a conversation was started. It was awkward and I felt very peculiar but isn’t that what Jesus asks me to be? To embrace the awkward allow myself to be peculiar?

What can you do to be peculiar today?

How can you be different enough to get someone to ask you about your faith today?

I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.

-Pastor Ricky

 

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