Bump into a Tree and See What Falls

My husband gave me the book, Blessed are the Misfits, for Christmas last year. He knows me well. I have always felt like a misfit—in my family of origin and in most Christian misfits 2circles. This is my place. This is my role. Is it okay to be a misfit? I often wonder. How does God view misfits? That is the question.

In Blessed are the Misfits, Brant challenges the status quo of what we aspire to in our spirituality.

What if we don’t fit the mold of what American Christians believe faith should look like? What if we don’t get choked up with emotion during worship songs? What if we don’t feel God’s presence at church, or feel much at all? Does that mean our faith is inferior compared to those who seem to “emote” easily?

While this is not my issue, I cry at the drop of a hat, this message of reexamining our standards of how we judge one another’s faith is worth pondering.

If you can’t rely on your feelings, how can you tell God is there, working in your life? Jesus said if you want to judge a tree, you look at its fruit. Someone might immediately, like clockwork, break down in tears of genuine emotion at the first chord of every worship song. Wonderful. But that’s not “fruit.” —Brant Hansen, Blessed are the Misfits

How can you tell if God is working in your life? Brant asks. If you are having amazing spiritual experiences? If you speak powerful, poetic prayers? If you lead an awesome ministry? “Nope,” he says. It is all about the fruit. He uses the analogy of bumping into a tree and seeing what falls. Brilliant.

Bump into a tree, and see what falls . . . 
Sometimes it’s love and gentleness . . . 
Sometimes it’s jealousy, anger, and power plays . . .
Sometimes it’s lawyers . . .   
Sometimes it’s patience and kindness . . . 
Now you see what kind of tree it is.

This analogy gives us a simple image with a profound truth. It is the fruit of the Spirit in us that God desires. Brant points out that most of the teaching in the New Testament consists of instruction on how we should live. Christ, and later, the Apostles, talk mostly about how we should love, forgive, be patient, show mercy, and foster peace—not how to evangelize.

Hansen describes this largely overlooked fact about the New Testament.

You’d think Paul would have filled his letters to the churches with evangelistic emphases, commands, encouragements, and advice, but it’s just not there. Yes, Jesus tells His disciples to “Go into all the world . . . ” to make disciples (Mark 16:15), and the Twelve did exactly that. But Paul doesn’t seem to think this was a message intended in the same way for everyone. His letters to believers have almost nothing about this.

This book challenges the group-think of the Christian community at large. Within the church are many stigmas and stereotypes. We must accept and love, not judge and compare. In matters of discernment, we must always measure things against the Word of God, the ultimate authority. What does it have to say about who or what is most highly valued?

For those of us who don’t seem to ever measure up, this book is an encouragement. Are we buying into the “one size fits all” Christianity? There is no such thing.

Yes, God is at work, but if the Bible is any indication of how He actually operates, He’s at work on the margins, not on the stages. —Brant Hansen, Blessed are the Misfits

Those who mourn, don’t pray poetically, are evangelical failures, who struggle, and who don’t have amazing spiritual stories are God’s beloved, and are blessed. The unfeeling, wounded, depressed and lonely are some of God’s most powerful warriors.

Our culture values achievement. God values those who love him and humbly serve Him.

Children of God come in all shapes and sizes. Not just physically, or ethnically, but in personality and temperament. We serve a God who loves diversity. The body of Christ is made of many parts. Though some might not be as shiny as others, each has equal value.

Misfits, outcasts, or those who are just plain different will find comfort and understanding in this book. Learning about someone who is awkward, an introvert, and one diagnosed with Asperger’s, like Brant, and an influencer in today’s culture is powerful. It gives the rest of us hope.

Together with radio producer, Sherri Lynn, you can find him on “The Brant and Sherri Oddcast,” or speaking at groups, conferences, and churches. Check out his website at www.branthansen.com.

Thank you, Brant, for sharing who you are in Blessed are the Misfits. Because you are me.