We think we are such individuals; so different from the rest. We think we stand out. I'm sure you've seen video footage of a street in New York with thousands of people walking the streets,
Do you try to do things outrageous just to get a rise out of someone? Trying to be different you get a tattoo or shave your head or grow your hair long or get your nose pierced? We want to be so different, we don't want to be like everyone else. But, in reality, how many people do you think get a tattoo? Thousands! Maybe, probably, millions! How many people cut their hair into a mohawk? Thousands! In reality, how many people get their noses pierced? Millions! So, do you really think that by changing your appearance in some bizarre way you will be different? Can you really do anything to your appearance that hasn't already been done by someone, or thousands and millions of "someones"?
So next you try to change your lifestyle, your behavior. So you try being sexually outre (out there) by trying various perversions. Do you really think no one else has thought of it? Well, how about taking drugs? That will make you different, a rebel, a somebody! Unfortunately, millions of others have tried and lost in that game too. Then how about trying to be different by acting outrageous, saying things that are shocking, getting every eye to turn in your direction. When, really, they are just ready to laugh at you and at your expense. How many millions of people have tried howling at the moon for attention? So are you very different?
Teenagers are especially naive to think that they can be different. They think if they dress and behave like all their peers, they are different from their parents and therefore...? They cannot understand that Mom and Dad went through the same feelings when they were teens and tried to be a part of the teen scene of their day. Teens can't understand that they may experiment with different fashions but it makes them no different from their peers.
This picture looks just like a hallway at the local high school in Anywhere, USA. Can you tell one penquin...er, student, from another? They wear their hair the same, the same clothes. The girls look like they went to the same makeup artist to put their makeup on. The same jewelry, backpacks..."Everyone else has one!" But they think they are so different. Back in my day you had some who had overbites, some had bad teeth, some had acne, some were skinny and some were heavy. At least there were some differences, but today, with excellent dental care, dermatologists, credit cards...they can all look the same! And they do. They shop together in cliques and buy the same stuff. Stores that target teenage girls hire teen girls, the same age as their target group, to man the stores so the customers will buy what the salesgirls sell because they are peers, they are the same!
Here is a group of teenagers on the beach. They wear the same teeny, weeny bikinis and the same pulled down swim trunks as every other teen on the beach. They want to be different and yet they are afraid to be different from the other teens around them. They just want to be different from Mom & Dad. They see themselves as so important and yet they are just one of millions of other people who also want to be important and unforgettable. They are the center of their universe and so self absorbed that they can't even begin to realize how very insignificant they are.
And if something makes a teen a little bit different, then the other teens will pick on you. Have you ever been pecked to death? It's a long, slow process of torturous death. It can be little things that hurt someone's feelings or it can be constant torture that kills someone inside. As long as it's not them, they don't care, they just join in because everyone else is doing it.
Then there are the wolves in sheeps clothing. They hide in plain sight, acting as though they are the same as everyone else. Hiding their sin and acting as though they are God's gift to the world. Priests who prey on children; handymen who cheat elderly widows; realtors who steal real estate from innocent sellers; developers who lie and cheat people out of their valuable real estate; landlords who don't take care of their holdings to the hurt of their renters; businessmen who abuse their workers or steal from their retirement accounts...wiley foxes. The rest of us don't know because they blend in. But God knows them.
What does God have to say about us? How can we be different?
- First we must realize that we are like sheep. Recognizing that we are limited in our knowledge and unable to determine our destiny is a step of maturity. We must realize we are sinners in need of a Savior. And Jesus is our Savior. He came to be the Shepherd of the Sheep. We must recognize Him as our Shepherd, our Leader, our King and we must learn to trust Him and let Him be our Guide.
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Matthew 18:11-14 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, does he not leave the ninety and nine and go into the mountains and seek the straying one? And if it happens that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety and nine which did not stray. Even so it is not the will of your Father in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
John 10:1-16 Truly, truly, I say to you, He who does not enter into the sheepfold by the door, but going up by another way, that one is a thief and a robber. But he who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens to him, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him. For they know his voice. And they will not follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. Jesus spoke this parable to them, but they did not understand what it was which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by Me, he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But he who is a hireling and not the shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away. And the wolf catches them and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is a hireling and does not care for the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and I know those that are Mine, and I am known by those who are Mine. Even as the Father knows Me, I also know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must also lead those, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, one Shepherd.
- Once we realize our need and that Jesus is our Answer then we can become His Sheep. This sets us apart from the world. The irony is that becoming His Sheep, finally makes us different from the World. We are individuals God created and God loves us, each and every one. But we have a choice and when we make the choice to accept Him as our Savior and be saved then we become born again. Our spirits are born and the Holy Spirit comes to live with our spirit in our hearts. In fact, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the seal of His acceptance. It's like having a stamp on our forehead that says "I belong to Jesus Christ". Now, we are no longer just individuals that He created but we are His individual that carries His Holy Spirit. We are one of His Children. We are royalty, Children of the God of the Universe. We are finally SOMEBODY!!! There are millions of children in this world but my Mom knows me because I'm HER child. There are millions of individuals in this world but God knows me because I'm HIS child.
Psalm 79:13 Then we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; we will show forth Your praise to all generations.Psalm 95:6-7 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before Jehovah our maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today if you will hear His voice,
Do you see the irony? It's so upside down from our thinking. We think if we are like everyone else then we will be different and unforgettable, making our mark on the world. But that doesn't even make sense. On the other hand, if we but humble ourselves and realize that we are just dumb sheep in need of a Shepherd, if we submit ourselves and turn to Christ, we become SOMEBODY! We become a child of the Living God. He takes an interest in everything about us. We are unforgettable to Him. He can use us to make a mark on the world. He becomes personally involved in our lives. He loves us that much!!!!
1 Peter 2:24-25 He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray, but now you are turned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
God begins to be very seriously involved in maturing us and growing us up in Christ. We begin to face lessons to teach us how to be good, kind, loving, patient, etc. If we fail, He picks us back up and tries again. He will never give up on us. We get One-on-one instruction for the rest of our lives. You may catch me on a bad day and I might be gripey or do something stupid...but God isn't finished with me yet. He may have to "whup my behind" sometimes but He will make sure I learn the lesson and I'm far enough along to know that I'd rather not have to have a "whuppin'" from the Lord! I like the easy lessons so I try to listen up good. But I'm so thankful that I don't have to blend in. I don't have to do stupid, outrageous things to be different. I don't have to jump up and down, screaming to get attention. I don't have to get painful piercings to make myself look weird. I don't have to walk bowlegged to keep my pulled-down pants up. I don't have to dress like a prostitute (or act like one) to get a boyfriend. I don't have to make a certain amount of money to be accepted. I don't have to look like Miss America to be loved. I have it all with Jesus.
And by accepting Christ, I am born again. I am a new creature in Christ Jesus. I'm no longer of this world. I'm an alien, a stranger, a foreigner, I'm different. How can you tell someone is a foreigner? They speak a different language, they dress differently, they have different holidays and cultural celebrations, they don't recognize our way of doing things. And diplomatic immunity means they don't have to follow our laws.
Well, as a Child of God, I'm a foreigner here on this earth. I speak a different language. I don't curse, or use foul language. I shouldn't be telling off color jokes or being rude. I dress differently. I don't wear immodest clothes and I shouldn't be painting myself up or piercing myself or tattooing myself like the world does. I should be wearing modest clothes. I shouldn't be offensive to others or displaying myself in a way that is a temptation to others. I celebrate Christian holidays and go to church on Sunday mornings to celebrate. I should be following the laws of my land written in the Bible. I shouldn't be doing everything everyone else is doing here in this world. I'm from a different world and I should be following the ways of my homeland.
We are different, we should be standing out like a sore thumb. But not by doing stupid things but by doing Christlike things. We can be kind when everyone else is rude. We can give a hug when everyone else is sneering. We can be patient when everyone else is in a hurry and forcing their way ahead of the line. We can be good tempered when everyone else is bad tempered. We can be honest and fair in our business dealings when everyone else is lying, cheating and stealing. That is how we are to be different.
Are you really different?