- (Photo: LifeChurch.tv via The Christian Post)
To live as a Christian in its truest sense would be to slap on the uncoveted "weird" label. But Craig Groeschel wears that label proudly.
He's the pastor of one of America's fastest growing churches – LifeChurch.tv draws more than 30,000 people every week. But he knows too many Christians, including LifeChurch attendees, who fear joining the "weird" club.
They'd rather be "normal."
Normal is keeping busy; going into debt; having sex (premarital and extramarital); going through the motions on Sundays. Normal is basically not living any different from the world.
To Groeschel, that's lukewarm Christianity and that's an oxymoron.
"If there is one oxymoron above all others, I'd argue it is lukewarm Christian. What is a lukewarm Christian? It could be described as someone who believes in Christ but is no different from people who don't," he explains in his newly released book, Weird.
The Oklahoma pastor isn't pointing fingers. He's lived the lukewarm Christian life for years.
"We may claim to believe in God, but we don't want to believe so much that it makes us different," he says. "We don't want to go overboard with this whole religion thing. Sure, we want to believe in God, but we don't want to stand out and have others misunderstand and label us."
"Imagine God looking at most of what passes for Christianity today and saying, 'I know who I am. I know what I've done for you. I sent you my Son, Jesus, so that you could truly live. And yet you act like you think that simply squeezing me into your schedule every now and then will satisfy me – the one and only true, holy God."
His concern, he says, is that "we've made lukewarm synonymous with normal."
In his book, Groeschel details how "normal" just isn't working.
It's become the norm to expand to-do lists and equate busyness with success, all the while getting lost in the world's busyness and not engaging the Father's business.
Spending well beyond our means is all too common.
Even adultery is normal today with 65 percent of husbands and 55 percent of wives cheating on their spouse by the age of 40. And of course there's losing your virginity before marriage.
The "current of normalcy" continues to pull people away from God, especially as they live to please people more than God and separate spiritual life from regular life even though "everything we do is spiritual" and even though "God is our life," not just a part of it.
"I think Christians find comfort sometimes in doing what the crowd is doing when the call to follow Christ makes them uncomfortable because it is different," Groeschel told The Christian Post in an interview.
But he asks: Why work so hard to be normal, when God created you to stand out?
What Groeschel makes clear is you can't be a true disciple of Jesus without standing out.
"The truth is, if you truly knew [God], you couldn't be lukewarm or halfhearted," he asserts. "When you know him and when you recognize all that you've been forgiven, it changes everything. You cannot be the same.
"When you know him and follow after him, this world no longer feels like your home. You find yourself more uncomfortable being normal and more comfortable being weird."
The 43-year-old pastor wants Christians to turn up the weird, first by comparing their lives with Scripture.
It's what he did when he realized he was "faking it" and living as a full-time pastor but a part-time Christian.
He knows what comes with the territory of being "a God kind of weird."
People will make fun of you.
But he finds comfort in that today.
"I worry more about my Christian walk when they don't call me weird," he told CP.
Preaching his "weird" message to LifeChurch attendees at a recent service, he urged them to exit the broad path and get on the narrow one.
It might not be the most popular thing to do, but Groeschel reassures that once you're on it, you'll never settle for normal again.
"Not only is it okay to be different but when you're led by the Spirit of God it is way, way, way better to be different. Because normal is broke; normal is overwhelmed; normal is broken relationships; normal is fear; quite honestly, normal is sin. Normal is where the crowd is going.
The goal, he made clear, isn't to be weird for weird sake.
"Your goal is to please God and when you're striving to please God, He will set you apart, you will be different," he said.
"Normal people will call you weird but you won't care."