by Helene Smith
“Do you believe in God?” The thought had obviously been burning in his mind during the whole last period of the class.
Although I had made some glancing mention of going to church, I certainly wasn’t up there trying share my faith, since I teach English as a second language in a strictly secular environment.
“Yes,” I replied with a smile. Confused, the young man stared at me.
“Like a principle, or a comfort. Like something spiritual?” He searched for some common ground, an out so I didn’t lose face.
“I believe in God,” I said, “like I believe in gravity.” Disappointed and stunned, he inspected me as if I had just grown a second head. I plummeted from a sensible, beloved teacher to a complete fool in seconds.
It’s not the first time that I have gotten that look. But why not? People who follow God have always been crazy.
- They obey the voice of God like Noah.
- They pick up and move with no destination in mind like Abraham.
- They commit treason like Rahab.
- They steal a friend’s wife and murder to cover it up, then they repent and praise God anyway like David.
- They build little cities of mud and pretend to lay siege to them like Ezekiel.
- They go to jail like Paul.
- They break the law like John.
- Sometimes they just break like Jeremiah. There’s a reason they call him the weeping prophet.
The relationship between the world and those who love God has always been shaky.
“I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:19, NASB).
“Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Our choices are often incomprehensible to the people around us. Even the simplest acts of faith, like reading our Bibles deeply, often and well, seem out of touch with the modern world.
Complex decisions of faith regarding politics, family structure or helping the hurting among us seems so far outside the realm of normal that we are often ostracized.
There was a time when they thought Jesus was crazy. At the height of his popularity, with the crowds thronging him on every side.
“When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, ‘He has lost His senses'” (Mark 3:21).
If our Savior could bear some sideways looks, if he could stand it when people talked behind his back and judged his acts of faith worthy of ridicule, we can too. In fact, we must.
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:12-13).
I’m not going to stop telling people I believe in God. People who ask about my child-rearing will hear a proverb or two. If they ask about my politics, I’ll need to include footnotes for the scripture references. I accept that the world will find me out of step at best.
Why should I be better than my master? They thought he was crazy too!
Helene lives in Knoxville, Tennessee and works as an ESL teacher overseas with her husband. Her writing can be found at: