Some years ago, I found a great birthday card for a friend who, as we sometimes say, marched to a different drummer.
The card depicted a marching band with one person appearing to be out of step with the others. The script on the card read, “Everyone’s out of step but you!”
I think of that card fairly often. It’s easy to picture that marching band or troop of soldiers marching in lock step after a great deal of practice and drill.
And it doesn’t take much imagination to see what happens when one person is walking to a different drummer.
While we can appreciate the discipline that it takes to pull off marching precision, it is important to realize that in some aspects of our lives and faith-walks, being out of step might be what we are called to do.
There are times when examining how and why the crux of what we believe and how we live out those beliefs might call us to step out of the crowd and follow that different drummer’s beat.
My husband and I live in a part of the country where our political views are at odds with our friends, many of them good and close friends who basically have a different point of view. I am out of step with my friends.
The Southern Baptist denomination in which I grew up has taken stands with which I strongly disagree. I am out of step with that denomination.
The church we attend is dually aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Convention, but at this time leans much more strongly toward the latter. We are out of step with many of our fellow church members, although I am grateful that we can still worship and serve there.
As my husband and I watch TV programs, we have decided that we are not the target market for much of anything as the advertisements leave us shaking our heads in dismay.
The content of so much that evidently appeals to others leaves us either offended as too violent, explicit and graphic, or just uninterested. We are out of step with our culture.
When the things you feel strongly about are based on prayerful, careful decisions, it is easy to get discouraged when feeling that everyone is out of step but you! Of course, as a friend reminds me with a smile, we might really be the ones who are out of step!
It doesn’t take a very deep search of the Gospels to realize how out of step Jesus was. He was out of step with the religious leadership of his day. He was out of step with the culture of his day. He was even out of step with his own disciples on occasion.
We are often more comfortable with those who agree with us. It is often difficult to take a stand for something that might be considered controversial, but it is those who have been willing to step out on faith to take a stand who have made a difference for good.
My out-of-step feelings pale in significance when I consider others.
On one side of my heritage, I can claim Huguenot ancestors who were not afraid to be out of step with their culture because of their faith and who eventually emigrated to be able to worship and live in freedom.
Corrie Ten Boom and others who sheltered Jews during the Holocaust jeopardized their well-being and freedom to be out of step with those in control.
Rosa Parks was out of step with the mores of the city in which she lived, and those who joined with her in standing up against Jim Crow injustices risked their jobs, safety and, in many cases, lives.
The Palestinian Christians are out of step with their neighbors and are often in great danger as they seek to follow Christ.
These are only a few examples of heroes, both past and present, who realized that being out of step was the very essence of who they were or are.
Our oldest daughter, a professor, has been privileged to spend a great deal of time in Russia, where she now has many friends.
They have shared an old Russian adage with her: The tallest blade of grass is the first one that gets cut.
When we have made a prayerful, Spirit-led decision that has led us to be out of step, we have to realize that the decision might indeed make us the tallest blade of grass.
Sara Powell is on the board of directors of the Baptist Center for Ethics, a freelance writer and former moderator of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. She and her husband, Bill, live in Hartwell, Ga.