If there was a position in ministry called Director of Awkward Moments I would be promoted to it. Why? Because I have a tendency, in the words of my old pastor, to keep talking until I start making sense and to make appropriately funny jokes at flat-out inappropriate times. Sometimes my attempts at humor are misinterpreted as serious statements. Sometimes my serious statements are misinterpreted as attempts at humor. It’s always awkward when people don’t know whether to laugh, cry, punch you in the face or run away in terror.
One time, on a TBN-type live television broadcast, I high fived the host’s uplifted praise hand. I could see his hand go skyward out of the corner of my eye as I was telling a moving story of a changed life. My peripheral vision combined with my hands-are-for-clapping Baptist mindset, told me that this TV preacher was wanting to give me a high five in response to my story. But he was just raising his hands in praise to God. I quickly turned to him, and before I noticed his other upstretched hand of praise, I smacked the one closest to me so hard it stunned and bewildered him. The camera guys were laughing so hard that their lenses were shaking. AWKWARD!
I’ve had awkward moments as a pastor. While concluding a service I once misquoted Psalm 150 as “let everything that has breasts praise the Lord!” AWKWARD! I’ve had them as a counselor. Responding to a guy who told me that he was so spiritual that God told him he could divorce his wife I said, “God just told me something too. He said ‘You are full of crap!’ Now get out of my office before I throw you out!” AWKWARD! I’ve had them as a traveling evangelist. Once while visiting Europe a group of Scottish evangelists asked me what I thought of their sickening-sweet orange drink called Iron Brew and I responded, “If soda were gay this would be it.” Little did I know it was their national drink that they were immensely proud of. AWKWARD!
I could go on and on about my awkward life but I think I’ve made my point. I am the Michael Scott of the Christian faith. But guess what? Jesus loves me anyway.
As painful as my-kind-of-awkward can be there is another kind of awkward that is absolutely awesome. 1 Corinthians 4:10 refers to this good brand of awkward when Paul writes, “We are fools for Christ….”
When we are willing to make fools of ourselves and share Jesus with those around us then that is awesome! As a a matter of fact the more awkward we may feel while communicating the gospel the more awesome things Christ can do. When we are willing to become fools for Christ by preaching a gospel message that is considered foolish by the world (1 Corinthians 1:18) Jesus will do amazingly awesome things!
As we share the gospel we need to remember to communicate it to the point of awkward. We should feel the blood rushing to our face and ears as we lean into those around us and challenge them to accept the message. If we are just casually sharing the gospel as a “well this is what I believe” but are not persuading them to believe that same message then it is not awkward enough. Of course we want to share the good news in a winsome, relational and loving way but our goal should not be to be considered cool as we share it. Sharing the gospel is anything but cool because the moment we say in any kind of declarative way that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” and that nobody comes to the Father except through him, we are no longer cool. At that moment we become fools for Christ’s sake.
But those awkward moments can lead to awesome results. They did with the original Director of Awkward Moments, Jesus Christ himself! When Jesus told the woman at the well that she had had five husbands and that the dude she was currently shacking up with was not her husband that was an awkward moment. But it led to her awesome salvation from a life of sin. From Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees to his disciples and to the crowds we can see that Jesus’ ministry was filled with awkwardness. But it was in the tension of those awkward moments that many people looked deeply into their own souls to evaluate their filthy hearts before a holy God. It was in the atmosphere of awkwardness that lives were changed and souls were saved.
In the words of my buddy and partner in crime against the forces of darkness, Zane Black, “If pink is the new black then awkward is the new awesome!”
Let’s get awkward. Let’s share Jesus! Want to make a difference today? Have an awkward conversation about the gospel with someone you know and watch God do some awesome things!