As Christians who are fans of fantasy, or “Christian geeks,” we often struggle to fit in.
Sometimes we might even feel like there’s not much of a place for us in the local church.
This feeling can lead to a sense of discouragement, or even resentment.
I’ve served in fruitful ministry in my local church for the past 20 years. I’ve even been on staff and worked as worship pastor for a few years in the mix. But I can still easily feel jealous of the greater gifting others have.
At times I’ve thought to myself, “Why couldn’t I have the same spiritual benefits as so-and-so when they were growing up? Why are some other people just naturally better at the Christian life than I am?”
For example, one of our lead pastors is about 10 years younger than me. He and I both grew up in Christian homes and became believers very early in life. My parents gave me wonderful examples of faith. But I can see evidence of the uniquely Spirit-filled home environment my pastor received, whether he’s teaching up front or having burgers at my house. I would have loved to get the same advantages growing up.
But that’s just not where God placed me.
At other times, I have recoiled when meeting someone with more spiritual maturity or giftedness than me. Jealousy would take hold before I knew it. Inside, I would label these folks in some way—“legalist” or “Ned Flanders” come to mind—that made me feel more secure in my own status.
But more often, others’ gifts simply discourage me—at least until good friends with these spiritual gifts remind me about the unique gifts God has given me too.
I recall one conversation among worship team members, about the books we like to read purely for fun. One of our lead pastors told us, “This will probably sound boring, but I just like reading and studying the Bible. I don’t read any fiction. Reading the Bible is my idea of fun.”
Well. I immediately felt embarrassed and ashamed for talking about Brent Weeks and The Night Angel Trilogy.
I said, “Man, I wish I was like that! When I relax I like to read a bunch of dumb stories about magic and laser guns.”
Pastor Bob was quick to shake his head. He told me, “No, don’t feel that way. It suits your calling. Just like my love for reading the Bible suits mine.”
Pastor Bob’s words felt both gracious and insightful. Since 2006, through Spirit Blade Productions and later by Christian Geek Central, I’ve created online entertainment and resources to equip, encourage and inspire Christian geeks to live for Christ.
If I didn’t genuinely enjoy those things, I wouldn’t have much to say that could genuinely speak to the hearts of geeks like myself.
You may not be doing full– or part-time ministry as a vocation. But God has called us to minister to each other in our local church communities (Ephesians 4:7–16). He gives us even our supposedly “useless” interests and talents to bless others in unique ways.
In Ephesians 4, Paul shows his vision for Christian unity and partnership amidst wildly different types of people. He uses Psalm 68 to identify Jesus as the authority in charge of distributing gifts. Jesus takes all the resources of this world, from possessions to genetic coding, and portions them out in the way that best supports his eternal purpose.
Each person receives gifts of different nature and strength. But all portions are distributed by the same Giver. His specific reasons aren’t clear to us. But he’s a good king, so we can trust him with that responsibility.
We can also remember that our individual gifts don’t increase our value or significance.
Despite what Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins once told his girlfriend, it’s actually not “what I do that defines me.” Instead, God created and defined us as reflections of him. Jesus became a person, suffered shame, torture and death on our behalf, and rescued us from separation from him to remake and adopt us to partner with him forever!
God’s baffling fixation on each one of us is what gives us value.
We can’t add to or subtract from that based on our skills, talents, or natural tendencies.
Of course, I believe we’re all called into an increasingly deeper life with God and his word. But we’re not made complete yet. And we’re each in different places, with special gifts for unique relationships with different kinds of people.
In God’s gigantic jigsaw puzzle of the universe, you represent one piece. Only you can connect with the unique combination of pieces around us.
So let’s pursue growth, but also stay paradoxically content with our geeky gifts.
In my case, God may never give me the obvious ministry fruit as a pastor or music leader. But I’m increasingly content with the limits of my gifting and my impact.
That’s the peace we need as we watch other Christians practice their gifts, or as we look at other creative people whose work gains greater quality or popularity.
We can rejoice in this peace, knowing Jesus is authoring his fantastic story with us in it.