“You’re weird. They’re weird. We’re all weird!” Have you seen Channel 4’s #AltogetherDifferent ad? It's the one with TV personalities riding dinosaurs and watching Gogglebox. It aims to embrace the differences among its UK audience, rejecting shame or embarrassment and proudly proclaiming, ​“There’s nothing normal about the UK or anyone who lives here… come on you big, beautiful weirdos!”

The differences highlighted range from silly to profound, everyday to taboo: dating habits, being a goth, being Northern, having a disability, fears, fantasies and more. It’s a long but strategic list which points to TV shows demanding to be watched.

Of course, there’s a limit to the range of differences and​“weirdness” among us the media is willing to embrace and celebrate. After all, society wants different, it can handle different… but don’t be too different.

As Christians, we have something #AltogetherDifferent in a much deeper sense. Compared to this advert, the gospel we proclaim in all its​“foolishness” to the watching world is much more different, strange and even taboo (1 Corinthians 1). Might this advert act as a reminder that they need us to stand out for Jesus in a more profound, earth-shaking way, to be different in ways it’s deeply uncomfortable with. Because the gospel is worth proclaiming and celebrating without a hint of shame or embarrassment.


The #AltogetherDifferent kingdom

Sometimes, society actually asks us Christians to be more upfront about exactly how strange and weird our worldview is. Historian Tom Holland urged Christians to talk about the​“stranger” parts of our faith in this interview:

If you’re a Christian, you think the entire fabric of the cosmos was ruptured by this strange singularity, where someone who is a God and a man sets everything on its head… It seems to me […] there’s a deep anxiety about that – almost a sense of embarrassment that,​‘oh you know, Jesus is really just a nice guy’, but its more than that, its stranger and weirder than that.”

We worship the God who created platypuses, umbrella birds and narwhals; who gave us a vision of His presence surrounded by four winged creatures covered in eyes in Revelation; and we believe Someone who died came to life again. The Bible reminds us to celebrate and live out the #AltogetherDifferent kingdom we’ve entered:​“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

But are our friends and family ready for #AltogetherDifferent? And how far can we take this idea?

Winsome, wise, but weak” to the world

We’re not called to alienate ourselves for the sake of it. Paul wrote,​“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some”. Paul related well to others, winsomely explaining the gospel.

Like him, let’s be​“in the world but not of it.” Let’s do the work to speak into topical cultural entry points to help our friends grasp the gospel (check out our Being Human project or Cross Section podcast for inspiration).

Let’s follow effective evangelists and apologists on social media. Let’s draw from the down-to-earth language they’ve found to express what’s #AltogetherDifferent to anything our friends have experienced before.

But we can do all these things, and our message can still seem​“weak”. In the world’s​“wisdom”, friends and family can dismiss it as just an ancient myth – we have felt this from painful experience. Some reject it, some accept it, but the important thing is we’re ready to proclaim it, confidently trusting it’s​“the power of God to save those who believe”. After all, as hard as it can be, going out on a limb to speak the truth in love as soon as we have opportunity is surely better than an off-putting bait-and-switch style of evangelism.

There are times I’ve managed to explain how #AltogetherDifferent my worldview is compared to my friends’: from small stuff (why I’ll be praying for them rather than wishing them luck), to big (the reality of Jesus, heaven, hell and most importantly our loving God made a way back to Him through what happened at the cross).

It can be surprising to see how people react when we share and stand by exactly what we believe. And taking an audacious risk can nudge us into deeper reliance on and love for Jesus as He faithfully shows up to give us strength and inspiration when we most need it.

A Spirit of boldness

Let’s pray God will fill our hearts to overflow with the beauty and wonder of the #AltogetherDifferent kingdom we‘re announcing. To pray for confidence in our message – because refusing to be stalled by feelings of​‘they’ll think I’m weird’ will lead to deeper conversation.

Whenever the Spirit prompts us to say something a bit​“out there” for Jesus, our friends can start to see our faith is no lifestyle choice or social club to join but involves complete​“transformation and renewal of [mind]”. For some, the Spirit will confirm in their hearts this strange news is true.

Being a bit of an introvert, my style of sharing the #AltogetherDifferent Jesus won’t look the same as yours. C S Lewis explained,​“Sameness is to be found most among the​‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.” As humans, we all have a unique personality that Jesus doesn’t want to erase, but develop and grow.

For all of us, might now be the time to joyfully embrace and proclaim that​“there’s nothing normal” about our God and the gospel? That​“there’s nothing normal about [the kingdom] or anyone who lives here”?

How will we show the gospel is #AltogetherDifferent in the best way, to a world that needs Jesus today?

"Let's pray God fills our hearts to overflow with the beauty and wonder of the #AltogetherDifferent kingdom we're announcing."