All my life I have tried to not to be different, although an early school report stated that I was always trying to be different to the other children. The teacher got it wrong. I desperately wanted to be like them. I used to wish that my father wasn’t a preacher, because that was one of the things that made me different. My parents could not afford stuff the other parents could. While my friends got new black Tuff Wayfinder shoes with animal tracks on the soles and compasses hidden inside the heels, I got brown Start-rite shoes from the sales. I remember my parents cutting the toes out of my sandals in the summer to make them last longer. Little things that made me stand out from the crowd. Different!
Just before we moved from Guernsey to England in 1968 one of my friends called me English. I hadn’t a clue what they meant. I didn’t want to be English. Guernsey was where I belonged. A few weeks later in school in England I changed my tune and rapidly lost my Guernsey accent to fit in with the other kids. When I went to sea five years later I got called a Cockney by the Geordies on board my first ship. Apparently true Geordies consider anyone from south of the River Wear to be a Cockney, so I didn’t stand a chance. I spent the rest of that five-month voyage learning to speak Geordie so that I wouldn’t be called a Cockney on my next ship.
Last week when I blogged about being called a townie someone commented that “you can’t put people in boxes.” That comment unlocked something in me. Isn’t it true that most of us spend our lives confined in boxes, often of our own making? This isn’t what God wanted for us. He created us to be different, because He is different, and He made us in His image. Because He is different the world doesn’t understand Him. That’s why they crucified His Son. My prayer today is that God would make me different, more like Him and more like His Son. Different. Whatever the cost.
Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:25-27 NLT)