“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.