The Overlooked: Geeks in the Church

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:1-6)
Something about that simple phrase – “When Jesus saw him” – stands out to me. In 38 handicapped years, I’m assuming this man didn’t get noticed much, especially not in a crowd of similar invalids. He had no place in working society, which likely bankrupted his sense of value. 38 years without healing or purpose. Think for a moment how that would feel.
Then Jesus arrives and looks at this man. Why him out of all the disabled there, I couldn’t tell you, and neither does Scripture. But for my own application, the message was clear:
Jesus is intentional about the overlooked.
He healed this man and told him to walk after nearly four decades being crippled, but for me that wasn’t the biggest miracle. For me, the miracle was in how Jesus made this outcast matter.
Wherever there is society, there are bound to be outcasts, and we’re no different today. We still have our disabled and our destitute. Even pettier things can ostracize people. Growing up, I felt like my love of gaming confused my church peers. Many of them couldn’t relate, so I was often abandoned in their pursuit of more “normal” things – like flirting with each other when the youth pastor wasn’t looking, or talking about sports, makeup, and school gossip.
For those years (and afterward), I thought I was a severed part of the Body and an unneeded follower of Christ. If fellow Christians had no place for me, then what use was I to the Lord at all? I withdrew from church involvement, forgot my value, and became almost militantly repentant in my prayers. I was sure God had rejected me because of my differences.
This, of course, is just my personal example; everyone at some point – no matter what they enjoy – has been alienated for their hobbies in certain social circles. All the same, with interests that veer outside what’s typically considered the “norm,” geeks are particularly too often overlooked in the church, which I see as the Body’s loss. A young Christian woman I know creates beautiful anime-style art, but hesitates to share it in a realm of faith because “no one wants anime Jesus.” Well, who says? Hasn’t God equipped her with a love and grace to be shared with others who might respond best to such an outlet?
The fact is, Jesus loves gamers, otakus, and comic book nerds – and he lives in the hearts of many such people. Isn’t it a mistake to overlook them just because it’s hard to understand what God has called them to do? He found us and called to us out of a crowd of so many others who might have just as likely been noticed. He said to us, “Do you want to follow Me and use what you have to glorify My name?”
It’s time we start looking at the overlooked. Who in your church has unusual gifts that have heretofore gone unused? Who could you reach with your own interests? How can you encourage them to know their gifts and passions have value to our Creator?
Let them know they are no longer the disabled or rejected.

Amanda Bizeau-Nicol

Amanda’s love for video games started way back when she used to watch her brother play the NES; one day, she decided to pick up the controller herself, and the rest is history! She's currently working to upload her longtime fanfic work - The Fluffy Tadpole - to Archive of Our Own. In her spare time, she writes fiction, cross-stitches, whips her husband at puzzle games, and creates Myers-Briggs profiles for fictional characters. (Shh… It’s all perfectly normal…)

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