In God's economy, not only is different accepted, but being different is okay. Different can be used by God, and it can be used mightily. In reading the account of John the Baptist the other day, I perused several commentaries about his life and attributes, and he struck me as similar to those who have Asperger's Syndrome.
It is not unheard of for those in the Bible to have depression and often severe spells of melancholy. Though I don't truly think John has Asperger's, it makes for some interesting parallels and shows us that God doesn't require us to all be cut from the same mold to be of service to Him.
The Bible said he wore clothing of camels' hair with a leather belt around his waist. This was reminiscent of the prophet Elijah, but it was very unusual compared to what others at the time wore. The Bible doesn't tell us what the apostles wore, and to do so with John the Baptist is to call attention to his attire. He didn't dress according to the latest styles, and he seemed unfazed as to what others thought about it.
He was eccentric, basically (and I think that is awesome!). People with Asperger's are often known for dressing according to their preferences, and this is often very distinct from the way others dress.
John was also brutally honest and did not mince words. He spoke the truth, and he plainly told Herod that his affair with his sister-in-law was wrong. He called the Pharisees a brood of vipers.
People with Asperger's syndrome are known to speak their minds without regard for social customs and the 'feelings' of others. What they say is honest, and John was the same way.
John the Baptist was also extremely focused. From the time he was born, he had a special calling from God, and, according to what we know of him from the Bible, he was not distracted the way Samson or David were. He had a laser-sharp devotion to what he was doing, and he did not deviate from his purpose. People with Asperger's are also known to have an uncanny ability to concentrate on a particular study or discipline.
John the Baptist had an unusual diet. Some historians have tried to soften the account in the scripture, saying that he did not really eat locusts but instead ate carob pods. The fact is that the man's fare was sparse and different from the norm. I have never met a person with Asperger's to dine on locusts and honey, but many are known to only eat a few familiar foods, making their dietary habits different from most.
John lived in the wilderness, and he was not exactly the life of the party. Living in the desert, it is not likely he would have had access to as much social interaction as a person who lived in the hustle and bustle of Judea. Many people with Asperger's are okay with spending long periods of time by themselves, choosing to sporadically seek out the company of others. John likely spent a great deal of his time alone.
John wasn't concerned with prestige. When Jesus came along, he ceded that Jesus must increase while his own ministry would decrease. He was attuned to the purpose for his commission, and he readily gave up the attention and the platform that he had had. People with Asperger's are often not concerned with social climbing.
John tuned out all the noise of this world in order to hear from the One who would give him the words to say, and his message was shocking. His job was to tell the people of Israel that they were not saved. As the children of Abraham, they would have assumed that they were in good standing with God, but they were not.
They needed a Savior, but they did not know that. John fearlessly preached the truth, preparing the way for the Savior, for as long as God had commissioned him to. Jesus said that of all those who had been born of women that no one had been as great as John the Baptist.
And that is good news for all of us. Some of us don't fit into the box labeled 'minister'. Some of us are not ideal minister's wives or children. Some of us don't fit the perceived role that a man or woman of God is supposed to have. Some of us are bold or eccentric, shy or withdrawn, fashioned according to the Master's design. Nevertheless, God can use us if we are willing to be an instrument in His hand.
I don't know whether John really had Asperger's Syndrome, but it is interesting to see how these differences did not matter to God. We saw when Jesus came to be baptized, how He spoke to his cousin.
Jesus came to be baptized, and John said it should be the other way around. Jesus did not argue, but kindly said, 'suffer it to be so now'. I can imagine the Savior being just as considerate of all of us in our various ways of being, whatever they may be.
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