“Fitting in”

“She is really fitting in nicely.” “Oh, that is so wonderful!”

“It’s just so good to see him settling in and fitting in so well.”

“She’s so comfortable and easy to have around because she has just fit in every step of the way.”

What on earth did those conversations really mean? They were said as a great compliment and, I believe, innocently enough. It meant the individual was in compliance, “growing” on schedule, not causing anyone any discomfort or unease. Not creating embarrassing or awkward moments for people.

Are there then any such connotations to that concept in the Scripture? Did Jesus ever say to John, “You know John, I’m just so thrilled to see how Phillip is fitting in here.” Or did Paul ever say to Barnabas, “Well, you know the reason John Mark left us was because he just never could fit in.”

Did Jesus have a mental check list for each of his guys to complete before he knew they were going to make it and stay true? What was Jesus looking for in them? Was he looking for the guys to each bury their personalities and start to talk alike and dress alike? Did he tell them to not laugh too loud and make sure they never showed up at the breakfast table without looking a certain way? Did he tell them to talk less and listen more and to quit asking him so many questions? Did he tell them that what was most important was how clean they each kept their side of the room and that he always expected them to be ready on his time schedule no matter what? Did he tell them they had better not talk more than just a few minutes at a time and never ever dominate the conversation? Was Jesus consumed with conformity and cloning?

We see Him praising his guys for the revelation they were getting of who he was. For accepting his words. For knowing with certainty that He was from God and that He was God.

The things He corrected them for was their lack of faith, belief and love and sometimes their bondage to fear. He told them to pray when he was gone and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and to preach and baptize people. He didn’t leave them with benchmarks that had anything to do with the outward man or any time lines except to always watch and pray because the time was short.

In essence, He set spiritual benchmarks and time lines, not physical ones. He didn’t corral the guys who were all so different from each other to all be the same. Some of them were rough manly fisherman and there were genteel gentlemen among them that were doctors and even an office guy.

How did the early church function? Did Barnabas, Peter, James or Paul have a mental list of expectations for anyone entering and continuing in the ministry? Or for any of the saints?

Paul offered Timothy some wonderful advice on how to be a man of God. He told him in 1 Timothy 4:12 to “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” To devote himself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. To not neglect his gifts he had been given through a prophetic message when the elders laid their hands on him. (v.13-14)

Paul wrote in v15-16 to be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Everything Paul wrote to Timothy was a spiritual matter that could be manifested throughout Timothy’s daily life. He wanted others to see Timothy’s progress but never did he say that he wanted others to see his conformity to a system.

Acts 12:11 tells about the time Peter was miraculously delivered from prison and from the expectations of the people. (KJV) Oh, what freedom and liberty that was and is!

Jesus said in Luke 9:62 that no one who has put his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the service in the kingdom of God. Fit for service is different than fitting in. To me, fitting in was always the ‘standard’ established whether subliminally or verbally by the system itself that evolved over the years and that is not necessarily scriptural at all.

I want my ‘standard’ now to be 100 percent God’s standard. Not a self imposed one that feels righteous but perhaps may be more self righteous in reality. Not one imposed by others expectations of me because those expectations are so fickle and constantly changing and governed by pride and ego. God’s standard is simple: love. Love Him and love others. That is what He is looking for. When I can live with that standard being my compass, and that standard alone, I will ‘fit in’ with this world, in my community, at my work place, in my relationships, and in my home all perfectly. Right on schedule.

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10 thoughts on ““Fitting in”

  1. I enjoyed your writings. I was a born and raised child in the 2 by 2s and left about age 23. I was never happy and was very depressed growing up . My upbringing was really warped. After I left, I felt so free! However the fear of hell dogged me without mercy! After 10 long years of fear and anger and crying and praying and reading the bible and counseling and listening to Christian radio, God finally released me from my fear and answered my prayers and showed me the Truth. The truth is Jesus. He said, “I am the Way”. Finally after 10 long years of being out of the way, I was finally free of their hold. I am happy that you found your freedom. God bless you . Holly Cook

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  2. Approved of God…what more could we desire? has always been a favorite line for me..As I read your blog I can only sense the feeling of freedom .
    freedom to be the unique person that God created….motivated by LOVE not concerned by the approval of men…even Paul mentioned about doing all things as unto God and not unto men….
    When we think that God knows all our thoughts and actions, seen or unseen of men …it is really a sobering thought….

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  3. At one stage where I was it took another step further:
    “Fit in or be a misfit.”
    It certainly is a fear based dogma and certainly cultish behaviour.

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  4. Another really true insight, Darla! I have a great example of this “fitting in”. After my wife’s mom passed away her dad remarried a woman from outside the fellowship. After she professed, one of the well-intentioned friends offered to go shopping with her for a nice modest outfit. Thankfully, my wife’s stepmom saw through the hypocrisy!

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  5. Oh I needed that tonight!! You nailed it again Darla!! I remember being at a Special meeting luncheon and hearing some workers asking questions about a lady in that area who had recently professed. One of the older sister workers said ” well I don’t know how she’s doing but I know she went out and bought herself some dresses!” That really made my head spin!!! It was all about her fitting in, it seemed. It has stayed with me for almost 20 years. The spiritual didn’t seem to matter but the “fitting in” did. I want to be free from those expectations ….. I’m slowly getting there. Thanks for your help.

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    • Hello Becky, your post made me smile and I understand your head spinning!! I have always described myself “as a square peg in a round hole”. It’s just so wonderful to come to the stage in your life when you love being the square peg and celebrate it. I am never, ever going to fit into the “round hole”. Instead of struggling, trying in vain, to become comfortable in the “round”, you actually realise you are happier “in the square” with other squares!!!! Sorry if this sounds ridiculous, but I am using these metaphors as they, pardon the pun, “fitted in” with your words about “fitting in”.

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  6. “Fitting in” is not only an expectation, it is a fundamental requirement of any bounded group, including the F & W. Respect for and observance of the rules (whether written or not) and traditions of the group is necessary to be a “member in good standing”.

    “Drawing closer” is the hallmark of membership in a centered group like the Christ-centered spiritual church that is the bride and body of Christ. Jesus tried to make this clear to a tightly bounded religious group, the Pharisees, when He said, “You diligently study the Scriptures (OT) because you THINK that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to COME TO ME to have life.” (John 5:39,40 NIV). The Pharisees were so focused on observing the Torah, Talmud and traditions of their fathers that they refused to see that the love Jesus manifested and commanded was the fulfillment of the Law and the new standard, as you said. Sad to see so many bounded religious groups today that are still making that mistake.

    The liberty in Christ that I have come to experience was never available to me when I was trying to “fit in” to a bounded group. I love Paul’s conclusion in Galatians 5:6, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

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  7. Wow! Beautifully put! I love the way you correlated the greatest commandment with “fitting in”. When I think of the greatest experiences I had in the fellowship they always were the result of great love. When I suffered the most painful experiences they were always the result of a lack of love. Love covers a multitude of sins. Jesus’ loving sacrifice covers our sins. Since we are all sinners we MUST have the love of God in our hearts to have any kind of fellowship with others in order to see beyond their sinful nature to their spiritual nature. I am just beginning to learn about the power of love. I am just beginning to learn how to “fit in” to God’s will. I am so thankful.

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