Planking for Jesus: Socially Awkward Living

Posted: February 9, 2012 in Faith/Christianity, Life As We Know It!
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Planking, Tebowing, Owling, BatmanningFlash Mobbing…there’s a lot of social media fads out there that, although providing socially awkward moments, people still crave the fun & attention it draws to them.  We live in a culture that craves conformity (not the same as uniformity!) to the crowd, and if a group of people are creating a spectacle and drawing anything resembling quasi-positive attention…we want in!  It’s really nothing new…people have been putting themselves in socially awkward situations for crowd attention pretty much…well…for a long time (circus anyone?).  Take flash mobbing…now I’m not suggesting I had anything to do with creating the fad, but let’s just say I was part of a bunch of jr. high leaders in the late 90’s/early 00’s that loved to look for opportunities in public places to create ‘spontaneous’ moments (ahhh those highway McDonald’s crews never knew what hit them!).  It’s pretty amazing what kind of positive reactions you can get from people when you’re willing to be socially awkward for the sake of some attention, smiles…and yes…the occasional request to leave the premises!

This all reminds me of the call and cause of Christ.  Living as a Christ-follower can often be awkward, and leaves many feeling like social misfits.  Look at the lives of the disciples…those were some pretty socially awkward fellas living against the grain of ‘normal’ Roman, Greek & Jewish society, and they definitely drew attention.  Now I would say there’s positive AND negative ‘awkwardness.’  Negative awkwardness, in regards to Christianity, would be drawing attention to ourselves, and away from Jesus and the gospel. We’ve all likely seen Mr. Bullhorn Guy…the person shouting at people in the streets, as opposed to having a conversation with them.  It’s not that what these folks are saying is always necessarily wrong, but more about how they’re saying it!  It’s just negative, awkward attention that people are seeing, and they end up walking away (much more often-than-not) forgetting the message, but remembering and resenting the messenger and what/whoever they’re associated with.  Now there are lots of well-meaning people out there wanting to draw positive attention to Christ, but fail to-do-so for various reasons.  And there are plenty of people, who say they’re all about a certain ’cause’, but it ends up all being about the spotlight being aimed at themselves.

Take planking for instance…it’s all about drawing people’s attention to yourself and getting a few laughs and giggles along the way.  You have some fun with the actual poses, and even more bonus fun later when the comments start coming once the pics are posted online.  It’s all (for the most part) harmless, attention-seeking fun.  No one does these kinds of socially awkward pranks without the desire to grab some attention.  But what if the goal was not to draw attention to themselves, but for someone/thing else?

What if Christians would take that same level of intensity, spontaneity, creativity, and willingness to be…awkward for a greater cause?  

What would ‘positive’ awkwardness look like in a Christian sense?  An example of ‘positive’ awkwardness would be living a life of consistency and character, and when opportunities present themselves, seizing the moment with tact, intelligence, and seeking to make Jesus the focus…not ourselves.  I’ve seen people do some pretty cool and creative things in order to gain an opportunity to give a reason for why they believe.  It didn’t involve being an idiot for the sake of being an idiot, nor did it cause embarrassment, hassle or negative tension with those around.  Sure it may have meant being willing to be put in an awkward moment, but it wasn’t about them…it was about the cause of Christ.  Jesus calls Christians to a radical kind of living that goes against what the world says is right, true and meaningful.  Jesus said some pretty awkward things that led to some pretty awkward living instructions;

  • praying for and doing good to those who seek to do you harm
  • success=serving, not being served…the best interest of others trumping our own interests
  • you’d be better off with only one eye, or one arm…if that eye or arm causes you to sin
  • power and wealth are actually pretty meaningless…humility and compassion are much more valuable
  • if you want to follow Jesus, it means everything else falls 2nd…career, friends, social life…even family
  • when you see sick people…pray and care for them…when you see people in need of clothes and food, sit down and share a meal with them, and give some of your clothes
  • stop complaining about and being cynical of the government…pray for and encourage them instead
  • if you really wanna follow Jesus…cool…but you need to be prepared to die for Him, if necessary…

This kind of living smacks against the advise the world would give to us, as society’s message is one of self-indulgence, promotion, and “if it feels right, it can’t be wrong.”  Simply put, there should be something rather different and distinct about Christians.  The life of a true Christ-follower should look a little socially awkward at times…saying yes to things that make no sense or hold no value to those who don’t know Christ, and saying no to things that the world thinks has value…but in the end are just empty and meaningless (here’s a great example!!).  I’m not talking about making a spectacle of yourself or being socially ignorant and insensitive just to get ‘the word out.’  What I am saying is that living daily and submitting yourself to the life Christ has called us to, and saying no to the things that collide against biblical values, is the mark of true radical living.  And that kind of living, in the eyes of the world…is awkward!

So if you’re looking for some attention and socially awkward moments…that’s cool.  Have some good, clean fun!  But when we have an opportunity to deflect the spotlight from us, and onto Jesus, let’s not leave our passion and intensity at the sports and concert venues.  Let’s live it out with creativity and authenticity on a daily basis so the world will know that, although we’re still pretty cool, there’s just something different about us from ‘everyone’ else!  The next time someone asks you why you’re laying stiff & face down in the parking lot, or squatting like an owl on a shelf in the school library, go ahead and tell them you’re just having some fun.  And maybe, just maybe you could tell ’em that; “Jesus wired us to be fun-loving and creative people…and this creative awkward moment just gave me the opportunity to tell you that Jesus rescued me from my sins and has given me a pretty adventurous life…and He wants to do the same for you!  Or something along those lines 🙂

You are ready & willing to be a little socially awkward for a greater cause? (but probably not quite like the bullhorn guy in the video!)

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