We live in a society today that wants us to conform: Conform to what they want and the way they want to live, but I want you to know today that we are called to be different. We are not called to fit in but rather to stand out.
SO as Christ followers we are called to stand out not to fit in to the mold of society, the book of Romans was written by the apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome who were predominantly Gentiles. He writes this because he realizes the condition of the people, Jews and Gentiles alike are sinners and all are in need of a Savior. Look Romans 12: and what verse 2 tells us:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.
This is a tough verse in the scriptures for us as Christians, for those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ, because for some things it is hard to distinguish us from the world. It is hard for the Christian to separate ourselves from the world sometimes. This was a common problem 2,000 years and it is common problem today. That is why Paul tell us that we are not to be conformed to this world, he says we are not to fashion ourselves according to the world even when we are brought up with that very idea. In the past Christianity was new and the Old lifestyle was fresh in the minds of the people. Today we have the all TV, movies, internet, email, instagram, facebook, twitter and those things can be used to keep us in the world. It was once said “don’t make the world your fashion plate”.
This refers to a person who conforms to the latest fashion, the latest trend, the next big thing. And what Paul is teaching simply means we can’t fit in with the rest of the world and expect that we will be able to discern the will of God. WE can’t go out and do the things that the rest of the world does, which go against the will of God. You cannot do the worldly things and expect to understand the will of God in your life. Instead we are to be transformed by the renewal of our mind, transformed means to change one’s form too, we are change are form to the likes of Jesus Christ and that takes work. It has to be daily work, so that we can discern the will of God in our lives.
And that brings to our Big Idea;
Our Big Idea is;
“Why fit in, when you can stand out?” X2
When Jesus, the King of Kings was born He did not conform to the world standards , the world would have placed the king on a pedestal, in a castle, with the best amenities that where available during that time, A King would have servants to wait on him hand and foot, for every wish and desire would be given. Instead Jesus stood out, born in the very place that defines God’s love and Mercy to all people, a place that would define His ministry. Instead of servants waiting on the KING, The King was a servant and waited others, the King washed the feet of others. The King touched the heart and souls of the afflicted. AS THE King, He reached out to the poor and the needy, His love and grace was found not just for the Jews but, also gentiles, the Salve owners but, for the Slaves, the rich and the poor.
No king would be found touching leapers, much less speaking to leapers, no king would be found forgiving those who have sinned against them, who did wrong against them, who transgressed against them, No.
No king would sacrifice Himself for His people. No King except King Jesus. This King of Kings, this Savior, this Messiah, did not fit it, He stood out.
And we are called not to fit into the world but to stand out, to stand out for Jesus. We are called not conform to the worldly ways of life, but to stand out from them.
Jesus Commands us to be different than the rest of the world.
Listen to what Jesus said in Acts Chapter 1 verse 8
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will “HUDDLE in the four walls of your church, you will hide your Christianity from others, no one will ever know you are following me, you will be afraid to let to the power of the Spirit work through you, you will never be a witness to those around you and you will blend in to society.”
You may think that I am off on this scripture, but It is too sad that this is the version of the bible people use in their lives and that most Christians live by.
Instead Jesus said “You will receive Power WHEN the Holy Spirit has come upon you, AND you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth”.
I believe that if we had a out pouring of the Holy Spirit today like what happened to the Disciples at Pentecost, I think that most people, most Christians in Churches would dismiss it, Some people would run for the hills, but many, they would not believe it, they would dismiss it and that fact is they just wouldn't accept it. Some would call it being charismatic, while others would leave the church they are in because of it.
The truth is we have the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, the same Holy Spirit that affected the disciples where they could speak in all the different languages on the day of Pentecost. And in order for us to stand out we must have the Holy Spirit.
The first example of others not fitting, but standing out are the disciples, they stood out.
They dared to be different than the world. The bible shares their lives with us. They were plain ordinary people; until the one day Jesus said come follow me.
Has He ever said that to you?
Has Jesus ever said come follow me?
In Matthew Chapter 4 it shows Peter and Andrew casting their nets into the sea, then later Jesus sees James and John in the boat mending their nets. These guys were just fishermen. They only knew how to fish, their fathers were fishermen, they were fishermen, they were fishermen all their lives, they lived at the Sea of Galilee, they were professional fishermen, and one day Jesus said come follow me and He made them fishers of men (Matt:4:19). They could have stayed fishermen, they could have fit in with the culture, and they could have taken over the family business. But Jesus took them and made them stand out.
What happened? Their lives became changed because of Jesus. Because of Jesus they did not fit in but they stood out, though the Holy Spirit in their lives the physical church began with over 3000 people in one day, they stood up against the very people who crucified Jesus.
You see in the Old Testament at the Tower of Babel that is where God confused the people with making them speak in different languages to split them apart. Now we find The Holy Spirit in the lives and leadership of the disciples uses the power of the languages to unite the church in the book of ACTS.
When we become saved- we become followers of the Christ. We receive the Holy Spirit Power- Jesus wants us to stand out not to fit in.
Another example of someone who stood out is the Apostle Paul …
He was conformed to the way of the world at the beginning though wasn’t he?
Acts chapter 8 describes Saul before changing his name to Paul and how he terrorized the Christian community.
The Bible tells us that he approved the execution of the disciple Stephen, that he brought persecution in Jerusalem- the Christians scattered from fear, thought the region of Judea and Samaria. The scripture says “Saul was ravaging the Church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (ACTS 8:3).
On his way to Damascus the bible says that Paul was still “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”(9:1). He was going to persecute more Christians, to persecute the church, but he had a Jesus experience.. many call it the Damascus road experience.
Have you ever had a Jesus experience in your Life?
Jesus Confronts Paul and Paul believed in Jesus, he was blinded. He was taken to Damascus, A Man of God came by the name of Ananias and laid hands on Paul and told Paul that “you will regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17) Many people miss this part of about Paul, but it is just as important that he was empowered and lead by the Holy Spirit, then and something like scales fell of his eyes, he could see again. After being baptized and regaining his strength Chapter 9 of Acts verse 20 tell us “Immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues”
Immediately the Apostle Paul no longer fit in with the rest of society he stood out. Paul dared to be different toward his peers, the high priest, to the Pharisee’s, to the very people who feared him, who he was persecuting.
Immediately he stood out. Why because he had the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Where have you stood out in your life for Jesus? When you were first saved were you like the Apostle Paul, no one could shut you up? Did you go to the places where you did not follow Jesus and proclaim His name?
Christ calls us to stand out with the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit.
On February 5th the New York Times reported that CVS the country’s largest drug store. They will no longer fit in with society, but rather they will stand out. The company announced that as they move towards becoming more of a health care provider, that it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October. The Company estimates it will lose 2 billion dollars in sales from customers who buy tobacco products and other things like gum.
The Store Hobby Lobby, has dared to be different recently winning the opportunity for the law suit to be heard at the supreme court level, against Obama care which demands that Christian agencies to pay for birth control and abortion causing drugs for their employees.
Hobby Lobby is standing out rather than conforming to the world.
Jesus wants us to be different; He doesn’t want us to fit in with the rest of the world-
He wants us to stand out from the world.
He dares us to different- commanding us to be different.
In Matthew 28:19 Jesus tells us:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit”
That is being different than the World.
Making Disciples for Christ is not conforming to the world, it is standing out from the world.
I don’t know if you had seen the Coke commercial during the super bowl, It was about people in America and the singing of America the Beautiful, but it was children singing it in different languages, English, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and others . And this sparked a huge controversy by liberals. The big controversy was how dare them have AMERCIA THE BEAUTIFUL be sung in any other language than English.
My point is, many people today don’t want to stand out because of the controversy there will be. They are afraid to stand out in their Jobs, in their families, at the grocery store, at the gas station; there is a fear that they will lose friends, their Job, their spouse, even their children.
Many Christians today don’t want to stand out, they just want to blend in.
An article from Life Way concluded that a recent study found 80% of those who attend Church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, isn’t that great? 80% say they have a personal reasonability to share their faith.,…. but 61% of that 80% have not told another person about Jesus in the last 6 months. That means that only 19% of those polled reported that they did.
To make disciples we have to stand out. Jesus stood out, the Disciples stood out, the Apostle Paul stood out.
There are a lot of Books about making disciples,, don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of programs about making disciples. I have several of them.
But here is the bottom line; if we don’t have a relationship with Jesus- Jesus tells us that we cannot have a relationship with God the Father.
Without a relationship with the Son “Jesus” – we cannot have a relationship with God the Holy Spirit. Therefore if we don’t have a relationship with the son- we will never have the Power or leadership of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
To make disciples of Jesus – to be a witness of Jesus the Bible clearly shows us that it requires the leadership and the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Here is the leadership and Power of the Holy Spirit at work.
Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:5)
The Holy Spirit Filled the mouths of prophets (Luke 1:41’67’ 2;5)
The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus during His baptism (Luke 3:22)
Jesus was lead by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1)
The apostles where led by the Holy Spirit (Act 1:2, 16, 2:4, 13, 4:13)
The Apostle Paul received the Holy Spirit and immediately began preaching. (Acts 9:17)
So then the question is how do we stand out rather than fitting in?
How do we make disciples of Jesus, how does the church grow?
There is no book, there are no magic formulas.
First it is through the leadership and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Second we don’t need a lot of books to tell us what to do and how do it, we have the power of the Holy Spirit and second we have God’s Holy living Word.
And In God’s word it tells how to be disciple makers;;; it tells us how we are to stand out from the rest of the world.
Look at Romans Chapter 12 beginning at verse 9 look at that with me…
This tells us how to stand out from the world and how to make disciples of Jesus. This might go against what a lot of churches do and say, but it is the truth, it comes from God’s word.
Let love be genuine (this means real love, like Jesus teaches us without reservation or without being hypocritical). Abhor (ab-hawr means to detest) what is evil; hold fast (in the KJV the word is “cleave” it means to join together- to glue- fasten together) to what is good.
So our love is to like Christ’s we are to destest evil and join together to what is god, then verse 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, (I think that this where many of the churches fail most of the time, Rejoicing in the HOPE, the Hope is the Hope that we receive from committing our lives to Jesus, it is the promise of Eternal life and we are suppose to rejoice in that, we are also to) be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (this means continually prayer). 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. (Another words don’t think you’re better than everyone else). Never be wise in your own sight.17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
That is the book on making disciples, tell the people about Jesus, who you are and have these marks of a true Christian and people will want what you have, Jesus, God the Father and that Power and leadership that Comes from the Holy Spirit.
As I watched the finale of the Biggest Loser -one of the contestants said something that I found very profound.. He said “He was watching the Biggest Loser and continually being inspired- but never changing. He said “it wasn’t until he decided to be different that change came to his life”
You see, All the inspiration that he received did nothing until he decided to be different- to change…
When you give your life and heart to Jesus you become saved- maybe for someone here today that is a decision that you need to make.
Once you have made that decision, to get to the next level you will have to decide if you are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you and give the power, or will you just stay the same?, Having all the inspiration of all the sermons that you have heard, all the Songs you have sung, all God’s promises coming true and yet never changing,
The Holy Spirit brings difference; the Holy Spirit brings Power and leadership in our lives.
The Holy Spirit is the Key that makes the proclamation, the salvation, the liberation, and the discipleship possible. In order to effectively proclaim the message of freedom of Christ Jesus one must be possessed by the Holy Spirit.
I am going to close with these
Five action steps for standing out
1.To know the Father you must know Son (Jesus)
2.To know the Holy Spirit repeat step 1
3.Once received the power of God- go be fishers of men- stand out- be different
4.Tell others what Jesus has done in your life
5.Invite them to church.
If we want to stand out we need to be sure of who we are, why we are here and where our strength comes from.