“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. And the scribes that came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and, By the prince of the demons casteth he out the demons. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan hath rise up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. But no one can enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Verily I say unto you, All their sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and their blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:20-30, ASV
I read an article in “Reader’s Digest” that asked the question, “Are you normal or nuts?” They asked readers to write about their greatest fears and asked experts to determine whether or not those readers were normal or nuts. The questions included problems with memory, anxiety and stress. One wondered if her mother was a hoarder another was worried about everything she read. The experts agreed that nearly all of the problems were normal. The one that was questionable was the hoarder and was only problematic if it began to interfere with the mother’s life.
A side box with the article showed how it is positive to be a little crazy. Certain behaviors in moderation are actually virtues. They, like the hoarding, only become problematic when they interfere with life. For example: people with obsessive compulsive behavior are actually very hardworking and diligent. They make excellent accountants and business managers. Asperger Syndrome is a problem because it causes social awkwardness, but those who have the syndrome are focused and do very well in math, science and technology because it makes sense in their brains.
We often put the label of “nuts” on people who do things that we do not understand. The daughter was worried about her mother because she found stacks of paper towel tubes in her basement. When she asked her mother why she was saving them, her mother did not know. Now, if that daughter watches any of the hoarder or organization shows, she might automatically assume her mother has a problem. Perhaps she does, but my first thought was that perhaps that mother read an announcement in her church’s newsletter about a need for paper towel tubes for an upcoming project, but then when she began saving the tubes forgot who was meant to get them. Instead of throwing them away, the mother might have just thought she should keep them until she found the announcement or heard another one. Instead of insisting something was wrong and begging the mother to throw them away, the daughter could have suggested a good use for them and given the mother an opportunity to do something good with her collection.
It is good to be concerned about those we love, and the tube collection could easily turn into a house full of things the mother just couldn’t throw away. However, we have to understand that our diagnosis might not be right. We can’t assume someone is nuts just because they have some personality quirk we do not understand. It is up to us to find a way to graciously help that person if they need help and to love that person even if we think they are crazy.
We look at the life of Jesus and wonder how the people could have ever thought He was out of His mind. We know that He was doing something new and different for a reason, that He’d been sent by God to change the way God was known and understood. Yet how would we react if Jesus were amongst us today? Would we know that He was really doing God’s work or would we think He was beside Himself? Would we worry that His words and His actions were a sign that something was seriously wrong? What about our friends? Do we see their faith as something virtuous, or do we think they are out of their mind with their talk of God? Do we ever deny the power and work of the Holy Spirit because we think the person is crazy?