Summary: What does it take to change and live for Jesus, what does it take to move from belief in the Messiah to a follower of the Messiah. It takes transformation and it starts in your head. Do you dare to be different?
Different the sermon. Romans 12:1-3
Different now there’s an interesting word.
What do we think about people who are different?
Now he’s a bit different eats bugs, wears strange clothes and lives in the scrub.
Did you hear about the bloke who saved a ship load of people by allowing himself to be thrown overboard, nutter?
Well that’s different.
There was such a crowd around the pharmacy and such a need to get to it that they tore the roof off to get the meds that their friend needed. Certainly different.
His kid had caused him so much shame when he left, ripped of the estate, blew the cash in night clubs and on hard living until he had nothing left. When he went back home his Dad not only welcomed him with open arms but celebrated like the boy had done nothing wrong.
These things that happen, these people who react in ways that are unexpected sometimes shock us, they sometimes make us wonder why people respond the way they do, why they think the way they do.
You might see that the references I've made are a little bit of paraphrasing of Biblical stories, John the Baptist, he was a bit odd by modern standards. Jonah, well if I was in the same situation I think I would have gone overboard kicking and screaming. The friends who lowered their paralysed mate into the house after breaking through the roof so that Jesus could heal him, who paid for the house repairs? The Father in the story of the prodigal son, who shamed himself in the eyes of the community to forgive and welcome back his pain in the neck kid; this Dad certainly put himself out on a limb. It may have been a lot easier just to tell the boy to sling his hook to stay away. It happens.
Different; are you doing things differently, are you different to the rest of society or are you compliant, not wanting to make waves? Where does being different start?
If you are here today and are a Christian, and when I use the word Christian; I don’t mean that you were brought up in a Christian society, so you get the general idea about what Christianity is. Christian because a grandparent was pushy enough with your parents so that you got done as a baby, yip got done, christened or dedicated so that if anything horrible happened you would get to heaven in a state of grace. Or that you generally believe that Jesus was a good man, so in that case I’m definitely Christian. There’s probably a whole lot of examples of what a Christian is, there’s even some, soldiers, church members who believe that that signing a bit of paper and becoming a member or a soldier is the golden ticket to heaven just as those who centuries ago believed that paying for a church indulgence would get them straight to heaven. I’m not sure it works that way.
1) Christians are called to be different, to know God’s will for their lives to repent for a start and what that means is to take charge of their lives and with the Spirit of God living in them, with them change. But there are some who encounter God and after the initial Holy Spirit encounter that takes them a few hundred metres up the road to glory they somehow faze out and end up back on the road that is filled with potholes and burdens, the same old road that they were travelling is a battle, life is a struggle, if not Hell on earth. If you want a really good depiction of this; check out the parable of the sower and the parable of the weeds in Matthew’s gospel chapter 13. For all of us there’s a choice to be made, an internal choice to be transformed to be different to what we have been.
2) God wants people who encounter him to be different, not odd and eccentric though the Christian Church has certainly had a good number of them, people who stood out from the crowd and made a difference. There was even a movement where the people would march, bands playing loudly, singing songs of praise while crowds would taunt them throwing stones, dead rats and cats at them. The marched so that they could be seen praising God with the hope that others would join them on their strange campaign to bring others to salvation, so that others might live for God. They even produced a hard bonnet for the ladies to protect their heads. Why would the early members of the Salvation Army do this? (I pulled out an old bonnet and showed how it was a hard hat, I asked people how they would feel about putting on a hard hat for safety to attend a meeting at church)