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I Want to Be Different

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 7:13-14

"Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it. (NIV)

"Donít look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Donít fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to lifeóto God!óis vigorous and requires total attention." (The Message)

I Want to Be Different
by Frank Schaefer

Intro: Back when I was a child attending Sunday School, our teacher showed us a picture of the narrow path and the broad way. Interestingly, I would have chosen the narrow path up the mountain. The adventurous and wild little path seemed so much more interesting than the broad way where people were dressed up and seemed to be strolling about in a boring fashion.

As human beings, we have a lot in common, we are from the same gene pool, but yet weíre all unique and different. Just like every fingerprint is unique, just like very snowflake is unique, every single one of us is a unique individual, similar but different from everybody else. For some reason, we have a tendency to think of differences as a threat, we are fearful of those who are different and we are afraid of being different from others and we so we suppress our differences. We often find ourselves conforming to social norms and value that we probably don't always agree with. But what if we embraced a maverick attitude toward the world? What if we defied peer pressure and took pride in being different? What if we celebrated our differences instead of being afraid of them?

This is, in fact, what Jesus taught when he encouraged us to follow the narrow path versus the broad way.

What is Jesus talking about?

Society has its norms and cultural pressures. There are expectations from our family, from our mentors, from religious leaders and from our peers.

For instance, our parents often have expectations in terms of how we should live our lives, what career to take. I was expected to follow in my dadís footsteps and become an engineer. So, I tried not to disappoint them and started studying engineering. Two years into it I finally realized, Iím not called to be en engineer.

Here is what Jesus is saying: Donít just mindlessly conform to social norms and expectations. Use your head and, more importantly, use your heart. Discover who you are, what your gifts and talents are and then follow your own trajectory. Live up to your morals, your convictions, become a better person. Live your Life and not somebody elseís !

In fact, Jesus is saying: Following the broad way leads to our destruction, or hell.

Life can indeed be hell if youíre stuck following the wrong path. If you live your life according to the norms and pressures of society, you will probably be chewed up in the rat race, be consumed by materialism, and become part of the injustices and corruption of society.

We may end up giving in to peer pressure and do things that actually violate our inner convictions and morals. These are actions we later regret, things that damage us and cause us to walk around with emotional baggage.

The truth is, itís difficult to be different and to stand up for yourself and what you believe. But, Jesus is saying that we don't have to be afraid to be different. Follow the narrow path, enter through the narrow gate. We should embrace what makes us different! Why? Here are three reasons:

1. Embracing Your Differences Makes You an Authentic and Moral Human Being
LGBTQ+ persons know something about the importance to accept yourself for who you are. Itís a matter of identity, its a matter of living an authentic life instead of a closeted life. Embracing and living your differences makes you an authentic, truthful person. The same is true for everybody as we need to find our moral compass, our beliefs and convictions and then start living according to them, no matter what people think or say. Have you found courage to affirm and live your differences?

2. Being Different Helps You Make a Difference
Your differences stand out, and the world needs them. Your ideas, perspectives, and actions are required if you want to positively impact the world! Progress will never be made if you're just like everyone else. How can YOU make a difference?

3. You Can Use Your Differences to Teach Other People
What you try to hide or cover up could be the very thing another person wants to learn! Instead of making excuses for your differences, explain and teach others about them! This will help you connect with others and learn to love every part of yourself. What could you teach others about your differences?

No doubt, living our differences out loud can be hard, it means that weíre challenging the status quo, but thatís the path we must choose if we want to live a meaningful life, according to Jesus. It includes thinking about our choices and behaviors every day, it means going the extra mile when someone needs our help, it means to recycle even when there isnít a recycling bin around, it means to say no to peers when they dare us to do ďcool stuffĒ that really is stupid stuff.

Remember, stop hiding what makes you different and learn to embrace every part of who you are! Be courageous, be different and live YOUR God-given life. Amen.