At every group there's one person who is extra challenging, or who is less than socially adept, or who is a conversation hog. There's one person who is extra geeky, who makes comments that are WAY out there. There's one person who makes everyone think, "if that person wasn't here, this group would be PERFECT!"
And since it happens every time, I can't help but think there's a reason for it. So many times in groups we talk in theories- what it means to be Christian, what Jesus is trying to tell us in the Gospels, stuff like that. Then we roll our eyes at the crazy/weird/ annoying thing that person does.
I think God sends that person to every group, because we need her there. We need to be reminded that it is not all just theory. We need to put our money where our mouths are, and treat that person with respect, patience and kindness. As God said in "Evan Almighty:"
Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?
On top of every other reason to be respectful to that person, we should be respectful because they need us to be. They come to Church stuff because they NEED JESUS. They want to hear God's voice and feel like they're in God's presence. Can we really be satisfied with being the eye-rolling, impatient representative of God's Church for these people who need love? Do we want the Church to be like every other group these people try to belong to?
Here's another thought that I can't get rid of- since that person is in every group, what happens if we find ourselves in a perfect group? Maybe it means that if you can't see him there, then YOU'RE HIM. After all, someone needs to be the least fun in a group, the least smart, the least cool. And when we're HIM, won't we want to be treated well?
That God, He is a good teacher.