There are people in this world that just stand out. They have some “thing”, whether it is a talent, ability, charisma, or their appearance that sets them apart from everyone else. Some call it the “it” factor. They have “it”. We’re either drawn to them or despise them, most of the time we despise them because we’re probably jealous. Why don’t I have “it”? What makes them so special?
Well, for one thing people don’t always stand out for good or the right reasons, some are famous while others are infamous. I still find our cultures obsession with celebrity and fame baffling, especially those who look up to and worship individuals of poor character. One of my former youth leaders told me that she really looked up to Paris Hilton. She said Paris was a great role model. After that admission, I immediately was regretting that I had recruited her as a youth leader. I’m not judging Paris Hilton, but at the time she was only famous for being rich, and infamous for her wild partying and sexual escapades, and that’s it.
When I was about 10 or 12 my dad came home from playing golf and told me that he bumped into Fran Tarkenton at the golf course. You probably don’t know who that is and if you do it’s probably because you remember him being one of the hosts for the TV show “That’s Incredible” in the 1980’s. But, his real claim to fame came from being a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback. He played for the New York Giants and my favorite team the Minnesota Vikings. Well, I was excited. I was like, “Wow, did you get his autograph? What did he say? That’s so cool!” But, for my dad it wasn’t a big deal. My dad didn’t ask for his autograph or really say much of anything except for “hey, how are you?” It struck me as odd that my dad wouldn’t have been over the moon about it. To my dad Fran Tarkenton was just another man in the parking lot. Now if Fran had walked up to my dad and started a conversation, my dad would have talked to him and been friendly, but there was no shock and awe. Fran was probably shocked or glad that my dad didn’t ask for an autograph or want to shake his hand. My dad’s answer to my excitement was, “eh, whatever”. One of my dad’s dad-ism’s was “everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time”. Anytime I ever felt intimidated about going to a new school or playing sports dad used this line to help me gain perspective. Anyway you get the idea.
I’m not against celebrating accomplishments or recognizing greatness. There are certainly people I hold in high regard, but they are just people. What I’m most impressed by are people of high moral and ethical character. They’re not perfect, but they are just loaded with wisdom, humility, compassion, humor, and understanding. They will talk to anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. They’re not condescending, judgmental, or aloof. You may know someone like that. I did. He was my dad. He was not famous, but he was a very talented artist and architect. He designed million dollar homes and knew wealthy people, but he was a regular guy. It didn’t matter whom he was around. Whether he was meeting with a rich client or shooting the bull with a construction worker, He was always the same. He stood out to me.
Throughout the scriptures there are multiple examples of people who stood out, who were set apart for something special, but not for their own purposes or fame. They were set apart by God and for His purposes. As we know, they weren’t all perfect. Some were even infamous, but God used them for His glory.
“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV
Holy in this verse is commonly believed to mean absolute perfection. Since none of us are perfect, how is that even possible? The Greek word for holy in this verse is agios. It’s pronounced as “hag’-ee-os”. It means holy, sacred, or set apart. Standing out or being famous for own purposes may be our cultures main priority, but it’s not God’s. Jesus obviously stood out. He was perfect. He was God, but he didn’t use it for His own advantage, glory, or fame, but for His Father’s glory and purpose alone.
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8 NIV
Being “just like” Jesus is impossible, but we are called to holiness and godliness throughout the scriptures, true holiness and godly living stands out. It goes against the grain of society.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 NIV
This is a great verse. I love it too, but is this all that the Lord requires? It’s definitely in the top 10, but there is more.
“Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
I Peter 1:17-22 NIV
One of the great things about scripture and God’s word to us is how grace is infused into the message. God wants us to be “purified by obeying the truth” or do what he says, and to “live out our time here with reverent fear”, which means that we need to live our lives out of respect for God. At the same time there is always a reminder that our hope is in God/Jesus, not our own ability to be good enough. He sent his Son for “our sakes”, so that we could be holy. When we are weak, He is strong.
I don’t know if you have had to live under the shadow of a “stand out” sibling, family member, or friend. It can be tough always being compared to them. Being “just like” Jesus can be overwhelming too because it’s impossible. We can’t. But, the good news is that we don’t have to be. His grace is sufficient. That doesn’t mean we get a free pass to do whatever we want.
“So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2 NIV
It just means Jesus has our backs. He’s always there to help us up when we fail and get us back on track. No one knew this more than Peter. He failed the Lord miserably and probably thought he was finished as a disciple or follower of Jesus, but he got back on track, back on the path of holy living because Jesus made a special visit and restored him.
What will history and more importantly what will God say about me? What will my legacy be? Will I stand out as holy and set apart or go down in infamy as just another cautionary tale? Personally, I’m hoping for “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV)
Love y’all! Have a great weekend!
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.