My brother and I were scared stiff as the buses, taxis and cars whizzed by us as we tried to warn them away from the busy curb where our cousin had lifted the grate and was crouched down in the drain. Why? Clifton had jokingly asked us what would happen if he tripped and spilled the bag of quarters intended for our uncle’s barbershop. Well, what did happen was that he was frantically trying to retrieve as many quarters as possible and we were supposed to stand guard. Scary stuff indeed for two little country bumpkins in the big city.

Clifton was about five years older than us and, until that event, we considered him a role model and guide with street smarts. He was very intelligent and skillful in many areas, however, he not only marched to a different drummer, he also played the drum. As you might expect, there are many more Clifton stories I could tell you but space does not allow it. I thought about calling this article ECCENTRIC in honor of Clifton, but decided that UNORTHODOX would better suffice.

As Christians can we be both orthodox (conforming to the approved beliefs) and unorthodox (deviating from the accepted practices) at the same time? Many people we read about in the New Testament certainly were. They were orthodox in doctrine, philosophy and attitude, but often unorthodox in behavior. We are urged by the Apostle Paul and other writers to preach the same gospel (1 Cor 11:4) (Gal 1:8) (Titus 2:1) (1 Tim 6:3-5). One of the definitions of unorthodox is peculiar. Peter described us as both a holy nation and a peculiar people (1 Pe 2:9). He often practiced what he wrote. Walking on water expressed both faith and action (Mt 14:28-30)!

Paul also exhibited both strong orthodox faith and unorthodox behavior when he said,”…I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor 9:22) Thus the brilliant scholar became a tentmaker. All of us probably know of preachers who became welders, farmers, carpenters etc. And of course the reverse is also true, all in attempts to reach a certain group of people. May we also serve God in our orthodox faith using unorthodox methods when necessary.

—Jim Bailey