One of the hardest parts about skateboarding is trying to skate on the streets. Security guards always kick us out, cops get called on us, sometimes we get tickets, and occasionally even arrested. My worst experience with this happened when I was 15 when a couple friends and I were skating inside an elementary school called Brentwood where I grew up in Victorville, CA. There was no skate park to go to when I was growing up, so the streets was all we had. Our skate parks were schools, churches, shopping plazas and whatever else we could find. Brentwood Elementary was a bit known for having the cops show up unexpectedly, but we couldn’t resist the precious 3 block on the inside that we loved to flip our boards down. As a bunch of 15 year olds that didn’t know any better, anytime the cops would show up, we would always take off running. Most days we would get away, but this time we were not so lucky. There were seven of us at the school this time, and as soon as we heard the cops coming, (as our usual routine was) we took off running. Unfortunately though, this time two of my friends and I happened to be the unlucky ones that got caught. Getting caught by the cops after running is bad enough, but it just so happened that we had to get caught by the worst cop that has ever put on a badge. He gave us all full, intense searches, so much so that I kept fidgeting because he would get a little too close for comfort in the crotch area. He showed his displeasure with me when he yelled, “If you move one more time I’m going to slam your face into this f***ing car,” and after he searched us like we had just robbed a bank he put us in the backseat of the cop car. Keep in mind that as a couple of 15 year olds, we had no idea what was about to happen, we weren’t sure if we were about to go to the police station, go to jail, or what. But fortunately all he did was call our parents to come pick us up while we waited in the cop car. When our parents got there he accused us of vandalizing the bathrooms, tagging up graffiti all over the school, and stealing things out of the classrooms. He told us that if anything get’s reported in the next seven days then we would get blamed for it, which thankfully never happened. Luckily my mom understood that all we were there to do was jump down some stairs, and not to do any gnarly vandalism or theft, so my mom kind of laughed off the whole matter and thought the cop was a little crazy. A huge sigh of relief.
As crazy as this cop seemed to be, I can see why he would be so quick to accuse us of theft and vandalism. For people that don’t understand skateboarders, all they see are kids trespassing onto school property, and when things get vandalized or stolen, their thinking must be, “well it must have been the skateboarders that we always see in there.” A thief or a vandal though, is not going to want to hang out inside of a school for hours and make a bunch of noise. It shouldn’t be hard to distinguish between a skateboarder and a thief or vandal. Someone that does understand skateboarders, like my mom, can distinguish what a skateboarder is inside a school to do between a thief and a vandal. The cop couldn’t, so as a result, we got treated like criminals, not like a group of kids that were just trying to have some fun on some stairs. I have dealt with many understanding cops as a skateboarder, and getting kicked out by those cops is always a much more pleasant experience than with one that doesn’t. When people don’t understand something or someone, that misunderstanding is usually always met with ridicule and persecution.
As a Christian, we too will get ridiculed and persecuted by the people that don’t understand us. Partly because we are different from the rest of the world, and partly because we get lumped into the same category as in-genuine, hateful, judgmental people. They see people like the Westboro Baptist Church that feels like they have to be at every LGTB Pride event to make sure that the community knows how much God hates them for their life choices. They are also notorious for protesting at funerals of fallen soldiers demonizing the soldier. And then there are those that picket outside of planned parenthood that feel the need to make sure everyone who steps in there knows how much they are disappointing God. The world sees behaviors like this and comes to conclusions that all Christians are like this: judgmental, coldhearted people. So just like the cop couldn’t distinguish between a vandal and a skateboarder, the world has a hard time distinguishing the genuine Christian from the in-genuine.
It is also common to be ridiculed for being different from popular culture. For the secular person, all they see is just some weird person who bases his or her whole life around something they can’t see, or someone with morals they don’t understand, like not having sex before marriage. Every time a Christian is portrayed in the mainstream media, they are always weird, socially awkward, or demonized. People will always ridicule and persecute people that they don’t understand, and the ridicule of the world is not something that should surprise us. As 1 Peter 4:12 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” One of the beauties of having to go through the ridicule and persecution, is that it has a reward. Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when others revile and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” If skateboarders can stay strong and keep going into those private properties after being kicked out and harassed over and over again, than how much more the Christian in staying strong in their faith? A skateboarder will always be persecuted for skating in the streets, and a genuine Christian will always be persecuted for living a life that is contrary to popular culture, but there is always a reward awaiting those who stay strong and prevail.
How can we point out the error in someone’s life choice that may have them headed down a destructive path in a way that is not coldhearted or judgmental?
Romans 2:24 says, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” How can we make sure we are always a part of the solution and not a part of the problem when representing God?
No matter how loving or accepting a Christian may be, the world will always to an extent think we are weird, if we are in fact going to stay true to our convictions. For there will always be things that popular culture at large accepts as a good, normal way to live that we do not. How can we make sure we stay in the balance of loving and accepting people, without watering down or weakening the power and message of Christ?