One of the big conversations bandied around in Evangelical circles is the question of how do we approach, think about, feel about, act towards, talk to... the outsider. The gamut runs from total isolation in the vein of the Amish, to total animosity towards, which certain fundamentalists have mastered, to an amalgamation of infiltration-assimilation-admiration, as many of my emergent cohorts have perfected.
We can only speculate, based on the best available evidence, what Jesus would do. But about as near as I've seen someone get to the ideal, in pop culture anyway, was in Tammy Faye Messner's appearances on VH1's The Surreal Life a few years ago. Sure, she's a part of a camp of American Christianity that went astray many years ago in its embracing of material wealth as a sign of true spirituality, and perhaps she did more than anyone to trivialize the ancient faith of those who follow the Christ. But at the core, she got it right. She loved. She looked through the inadequacies, quirks, and (yes) sin of those around her and she loved. And in company with those who were different, she was respectful, kind, and always ready to say what I would make fun of someone for saying, but which needs to be said more, which is that Jesus loves you.
Tammy Faye Messner died yesterday, she was 65.