FEAR OF BEING DIFFERENT

Christ-following, Discipleship, Worship

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.”  John 15:18-19

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow me.”  John 21:22

There is no ‘one size fits all’ walk with God. I was made to walk with Him. You were made to walk with Him. We are His servants. Our life is to do His will for us. His will for me is often different from His will for you. There are general principles that are to be characteristic of both of us, but we are to learn His ways from Him. We miss the mark (sin, die) when we try to homogenize the rules and outcomes. In the passage quoted above, Jesus had just predicted the death of Peter.  Peter’s response to this was to look at fellow disciple, John, and ask, “Lord, what about him?”  John the Baptist was charged by God from before his birth to never take any fermented drink. (Lk 1:15) Jesus had no such prohibition put on Him. Wine was a regular part of His life. (Jn 2/Mt 26:-29/Lk 7:33-34) For John to have assumed that, because it was okay for Jesus (or most other Jews, probably even his own parents) to drink wine, it should be okay for him, would have been to miss God’s mark for him. But just as sinful would have been to insist that wine was forbidden to everyone, since it was forbidden to him. This is a common problem we must guard against. God has the right to put different requirements on His servants. We can encourage one another to follow God and steer clear of the temptation to have opinions about what God is having us do. We can speak of His greatness and sovereignty, give thanks for His infinite kindness, exhort one another to love and obey Him, remind each other of our living hope and eternal inheritance. But we must acknowledge that we don’t make the rules; He does. Do not judge! Do not give into the judgments of others. Note: I resisted the urge to say, ‘Don’t let others judge you.’ Truth is, you can’t stop them and there will always be those who do. All you can control is your response to them. Make it your business to give weight to only One Judge.

The pattern of history is that sinful man, dead and fearful without God and armed with the knowledge of good and evil, has always tried to make himself feel better by controlling others. We use a myriad of different methods, but the basic motives boil down to the same thing.  We want people to validate what we do by doing the same, or at least approving of our actions.  Anyone who is determined to walk independent of the crowd is perceived as a threat.  (1 Peter 4:3-4/Romans 1:28-2:11/Matthew 23)                        You cannot do anything to prevent others from trying to exert control over you. Try they will. But there is something you can do: you can choose to follow the Lord where He leads, submitting to His control. Just know that the way He leads precludes trying to control others.

There will be consequences for walking this way. One, God will not be controlled, so if you try to make yourself feel better through Him, you will be disappointed. He reserves the right to operate in His perfect wisdom, which invites you to trust in the goodness of His ways for you. Humbly and gratefully receive His good rather than trying to manipulate for the good you decide you want for yourself. Secondly, others often do not respond well if you do not submit to their attempts to control you. They will impose consequences. You cannot prevent this. It is the way of our sinful world. Most will not respect the single-minded servant of God. An independent person is always suspect. Consider the example of Jesus. He did not fret the reactions of others. Everyone has free choice and is responsible for the choices they make. You are only responsible for your choices, so focus on choosing to please God, come what may.

Some more thoughts on the suspicion that most feel towards the single-minded servant: The currency of society is need. If I have something you need, I have some amount of power over you. If you have something I need, you have power over me, but I will try to find some kind of power to at least balance the relationship. What do we need from each other? Affection, affirmation and admiration are some of the top forms of currency that drive the power struggles of the world. We even define love as needing or being needed. Compare this to the Living God who says that He loves us but has absolutely no need of us and that we have nothing to affirm or admire. No wonder so many do not perceive the love of God or love Him in return. We have no power over Him!

Oh, you did not have a home
There were places you visited frequently
You took off your shoes and scratched your feet
‘Cause you knew that the whole world belongs to the meek
But you did not have a home
No, you did not have a home

And you did not take a wife
There were pretty maids all in a row
Who lined up to touch the hem of your robe
But you had no place to take them, so
You did not take a wife
No, you did not take a wife

Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man
No, you did not have a home

Well, you had no stones to throw
You came without an ax to grind
You did not toe the party line
No wonder sight came to the blind
You had no stones to throw
You had no stones to throw

And you rode an ass’ foal
They spread their coats and cut down palms
For you and your donkey to walk upon
But the world won’t find what it thinks it wants
On the back of an ass’ foal
So I guess you had to get sold
‘Cause the world can’t stand what it cannot own
And it can’t own you
‘Cause you did not have a home

Birds have nest, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man
And the world can’t stand what it cannot own
And it can’t own you
‘Cause you did not have a home

Rich Mullins You Did Not Have A Home

Let us be those who follow the Lord single-mindedly and close our ears to those who will protest.

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