Question for you, have you ever stood out? It almost feels... Dare I say it?.... Uncomfortable. As a woman, it is inevitably-so that you will feel like a little bit of an outcast at one point or another; whether it is on the good side of the fence or the not so good side. The great thing about standing out, is that you have a choice. A time that I felt like I had to stand out was probably one of the biggest times of my life, my high school years. It was during the spring of my 8th grade year when I walked into an Easter production, found my pastor, got plugged into youth group, and grew. It was during this time that I had to make the biggest decision of my life: Was I going to follow Jesus or not? At a young age I realized that there was no turning back after this point. It was like taking a jump full force into a pool that you knew was probably a little cold, but jumped anyway. And once you jumped, there is no turning back.. I mean, how could I even want to? Especially when I knew all that Jesus had to offer my life...
So I did it. I made the decision. The final call. I chose Jesus. But going back to school in the fall for 9th grade was a little different. A new school (high school for crying out loud), new people (all the upper class-men AND old friends that I hadn't seen all summer), and a new life. And who was expecting the "old" Annastacia? Pretty much everyone. But I was changed forever. I was completely submerged in my faith. I had to take a chance, and stand out.
Let's take a step back though, because this story isn't about me.
From the day of conception, Jesus was always called to stand out. Could you imagine? Jesus, always perfect, always man, always God, always standing out. Thankfully we aren't called to be perfect, but we are called to be like Jesus, and that means we are called to stand out. Imagine what things would be like if Jesus said "God, today I'm NOT going to stand out for you today because _______" Fill in the blank with our excuses: I'm scared, I'm mad at you, I'm not good enough, I'm fine where I am in my own life, I'm tired, I'll do it tomorrow... and the list goes on. But take notice, we are not called to stand out so that WE look for our own credit. No, we are called to stand out to bring God glory.
6 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
The reason why this is so important is because that boy stood out. He chose to stand out. He was willing to be vulnerable, and take a risk. And when Jesus performed this miracle and fed 5,000 people, he didn't brag and say "look what was done because of me." He stood out to bring the glory to Christ. To be apart of His ministry. Imagine what would've happened if he wasn't willing on giving up his loaves of bread and small fish. Imagine if he doubted Jesus, and walked right on by. If you say "Jesus, I give you all I have. Not for my glory but for yours. Amen." Things will change, and Jesus will be calling you out to stand out for His glory.
So we just talked about what is looks like to stand out FOR Christ, but it could be that you are standing against Christ and MAYBE not even realize it. Some of you may be in your first, second, fifth, tenth, or more year(s) in the church. It is very easy to go through the motions and become hardhearted. Are you critical? Do you point out every mistake someone makes? Do you choose harsh judgement over mercy? If you answered yes to any of these things, then you probably are taking doing more harm than good. You are probably taking a stand against Christ... And may be painting a bad picture to other people of what Christ's love looks like. It is very easy to stand for the wrong things with right intentions. Do you follow what I am saying? Let's take a look at the Pharisees:
The Pharisees accepted The Word of God (which would be the Old Testament at this time). They were so critical on things being done the "right way" that they went against Jesus and completely missed His coming. Put yourself in these shoes and ask yourself, "Am I becoming so obsessed with things being done "right" that I am taking a stand ultimately against Christ and missing Him in my life?"
12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus,they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
Here Jesus performed a miracle and the Pharisees called Jesus out and tried to say what He was doing was wrong. Are you crucifying the saviors around you? It is so important to consciously make an effort and stand out for Christ. Trust Him. He will take your sacrifice and turn it into glory for His kingdom.
God, we pray that you would clear our hearts of the things that don't glorify you. Call us out to be bold, and set apart for your kingdom. Use our sacrifice, take our fears, and turn them into a sweet testimony of your grace. Amen.