“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” — Dr. Seuss
I know what you’re thinking, Dr. Seuss lines aren’t exactly the most profound phrases to initiate a spiritual subject on.
But with hunting season ushering in, I couldn’t help but make the connection between the quote and this title.
As much as we love to use these types of sayings or even outwardly attempt to prove how different and unique we are through fashion or hairstyles or obtaining the latest technology or showing off our most fascinating hobbies and experiences, none of us want to be so unlike others that we become an ostracized oddball.
I don’t care how much you preach that you’re so original and individualistic, it is absolutely natural for all of us to want to find common ground with others and a group where we feel we belong.
We all want to be accepted. Some of us can even end up sacrificing our own thoughts or morals in order to match those of others in our environment, much like the way camouflage gear works in the woods.
Christianity, however, has a tendency to set people apart.
|Mooney Falls, Havasupai, Arizona|
Like 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…”
I’ve never been defined as introverted or shy, but even I have experienced the real pressure that exists to fit in and be liked.
By nature, I’m a people-pleaser.
Is that a bad thing? Short answer: it can be.
Although this characteristic has its perks, allowing me to find common interests and get along with most people, for example, it can often bring some unnecessary inconveniences as well.
I’ve had to learn the hard way that it is okay to disagree or occasionally say no.
Once a compromise has been made, it is twice as hard to back up and make it right again.
Trying too hard to blend in and be acceptable to everybody can often mean forfeiting one’s own beliefs, opinions, and backbone, ultimately.
Trying not to step on toes in order to appease everyone else can eventually cause one to misplace his or her own identity, because one becomes too busy trying to be who everyone else needs or wants them to be.
Many of you have probably heard the term social chameleon; it’s basically described as someone who changes the way they interact with people depending on who they’re with.
Again, this can be a positive social skill. Nothing wrong with being diverse or well-rounded. We all have different friends for different reasons and seasons.
But as the New York Times link above suggests, being a chronic social chameleon can be psychologically, and obviously spiritually, damaging.
If the purpose is to find ourselves or allow others to define our personality for the sake of being loved by whomever we happen to be around at any given time, we’ve got it all wrong.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2, KJV).
God knew we would have to be in the world–that we would have to be sheep among wolves. But He didn’t inform us to give in and assimilate ourselves to look, act, think, and talk like them.
Instead, we should take our example from Jesus and God’s people in scripture, no matter how much more it makes us stand out in contrast.
Look how strange Jesus was. Look how misunderstood He was to His own nation.
No doubt this hurt, but knowing there was a greater mission to accomplish, He didn’t allow it to affect His ministry or make adjustments to the way He lived the Word.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV).
|Samson @ Pacific City, OR, a couple years ago|
Of course life is easier when we aren’t fighting against the current.
When we compromise or give in to an easier route instead of going against the tide, we can breathe better and the devil is off our backs.
But easy isn’t always right. In fact, it usually isn’t.
1 John 2:15 (ESV) “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
We are called to love and serve others, it’s true.
However, we are called to love God and His direction for our lives first and foremost.
If ever we are placed in a situation where we have to choose one or the other, like the three young Israelite men who refused to worship the idol the king of Babylon had raised up, we know the right decision is always to obey God’s Word, even if it means we are in turn targeted and persecuted for it (see Daniel 3).
The rest of the world is waiting for a real leader like you to follow, to point them to truth.
As easy as it can be to just go with the flow, humanity loves and respects someone who takes a stand and isn’t afraid of being considered socially abnormal in the process.
Even if it doesn’t make you popular; even if you end up looking like a pink flamingo among common starlings and sparrows, learn to embrace the unique quality you possess as a follower of Christ.
I encourage you to remove your masks and camouflage jackets.
Let people see that you’re a Christian, and that not all Christians are hypocrites. Let them know that you’re a child of the King without even opening your mouth.
May your stand for the Word and His perfect love in you convince everyone around you that your faith is genuine.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” –Dr. Seuss