I AM Different

Sermon: Chosen because I AM Different

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:27

The X-Men started out as a comic book, which later became a popular series of movies.

In the movies, some people began experiencing abnormalities called mutations. Not mutations like having twelve toes, but the kind that empowered them to do amazing things, like control the weather, bend the elements, move objects, possess superhuman speed, strength, and mind control.

But the society in which they lived had a problem with that and rejected them.  Society not only rejected them but called them names, specifically mutants.   

Society called them mutants because they looked and acted differently than everyone else did.  Their differences were something scary for the people among which they lived.

Isn’t it amazing how people fear differences?

Write this down: “Fear, left unchecked, can create enemies out of those who we consider ‘different.’” 

This is evident even today.

As a result, of these mutants being different, they were rejected, avoided, and even persecuted, because they were different.

Charles Xavier is one of the mistreated mutants, but he refuses to let bitterness overtake him. He decides to become “Dr. X,” a force for good in the world.

Soon Dr. X starts what is known as a school for gifted kids but, in reality, it was a refuge house for mutants (a safe place for those outcasts who were different to be able to go and feel safe). They were not only rejected by people who didn’t know them, many of them have been hurt or disowned by people who were supposed to love them.  They were rejected by their parents, family members and supposed to be friends because they were different. 

They were rejected!

“Rejection” The word rejection comes from a Latin word “Repudium” that means to be thrown back. It comes in many forms—not getting the job, a parent whose approval always seems to be just out of reach, a parent who decided not to be in your life, a boyfriend or girlfriend who dumps you, a spouse who comes home one day to say he or she no longer loves you or that he or she is in love with someone else, a friend that suddenly blindsides you with betrayal, a child who doesn’t have time for you.

All of us have experienced rejection in some form.  There is no doubt in my mind that rejection causes pain.  Pain so deep that lingering wounds splinter into many directions. Pain that lodges itself deep into the memory, altering the way we see ourselves, others, situations, and even God.

The feeling of rejection not only stops us in our present pursuits, but it sometimes causes us to retreat from progressing because we fear failure.

Write this down: “the rejection we experience in our lives can become the very building block of the future.” 

These mutants found love and healing in the safe haven of Dr. X’s school. I believe that God created the church to be a safe haven for mutants (people who are different).  The church is to be a place of love for those who might feel rejected.  That’s why here at Washington Heights UMC God created us to be a Hub of HOPE.  To be a house full of misfits who are not perfect but serve a God who is.  We are rooted in Love; love for God and one another.

We are not perfect, but we can point others in the direction of the One who is.

Dr. X also trains them to use their gifts and abilities as weapons to save the world from the evil that is seeking to destroy it.

The X-Men is a make-believe Marvel movie, but the church is not.  It is a place where we come to learn to use what God has given us to make positive impacts in our community, city, state, and the world.

Many of us can identify with the mutants because we are all strange in our own way. We all have quirks, bad habits, hang-ups, and painful experiences that have left us and or others scared and or even broken. We are not quite right. We are misfits, oddballs, rebels, loners, and nonconformist.  We are like the characters in the X-Men movies, we are mutants in a sense. 

We’re not quite right.”

Many times, we feel all alone and as though something is wrong because we are different.

Who am I talking to this morning?  Is it just me?

I want to talk to you this morning.

What is it about you that makes you feel different or like you are not quite what or where you are supposed to be?  

Is it that everyone around you is getting married or is already married, but you’re still single or even divorced? Which leaves you asking the question “What is wrong with me?” Or perhaps everyone around you seems to be happy and has everything going for them, but you are struggling? Struggling with addiction.  Struggling with your past. Struggling with depression. Struggling with the abuse you suffered as a child, and it has left you feeling damaged or broken. Struggling with (now you fill in the blank).

Whatever it is, STRUGGLING!

Do you feel like you are just not quite right? If that is you say, “I AM Different.”

But being different is nothing new.

When Paul wrote this letter, to the Corinthian church, it was different.  Their differences caused them to struggle among a society who could not relate to them.  The church in Corinth was the laughingstock of the city. In fact, it was viewed as a HOPELESS place full of broken mutants who were not quite right.  Because it was infected with spiritual immorality, split by factions that dragged each other into court, and crippled by abuse of spiritual gifts, this church needed radical spiritual surgery.  People in the area, believed that the church at Corinth was a seriously troubled church. 

It was the HOPELESS spot of the entire Roman Empire. Governmental authorities considered the people in that church as outcast, weak, puny, pathetic, group of useless religious idiots. They were literally the butt of all the jokes and were viewed as societal rubbish.

Yet these same people turned the world upside down!

These oddballs through their commitment to Jesus Christ, turned the world upside down.  They introduced the Romans to a love that liberated them from pagan worship and paved the way for the good news of the gospel to be shared throughout the world.

Isn’t it AMAZING how God uses the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty?

Write this down, “I may not be perfect, but God can use me!”

This church was not perfect, yet God chose them to accomplish Amazing things for His glory!

It seems to me as though God has a thing for choosing people who aren’t exactly perfect.  He chooses people who don’t have that picture-perfect pasts.  

Remember:

  • Joseph!  despite coming from a family so dysfunctional that his brother sold him into slavery. God uses him, to save those same brothers and a nation from starvation. 
  • Remember Moses!  He had a speech impediment.  He was a refugee and a murderer, but God chose him to deliver a message to Pharaoh and deliver His people.    
  • God even chooses people whose “mutations” are a result of their own sins and bad choices. Remember Abraham the father of faith.  Even though Abraham had a serious problem with lying. God still used him for His glory.
  • Okay, maybe you remember Noah. After the Flood, Noah got drunk and exposed himself before his sons.
  • God even chose Rahab a prostitute. 
  • A Coward! (Remember Elijah who ran from Jezebel)
  • David, an adulterer, to be the leader of his people.
  • Peter, the hot head!
  • And a Thief, who hung on the cross.

The bottom line is, God has a history of choosing people with messy problems and messy past.

God chose people who were different.

God chose the common, regular, run-of-the-mill folks with checkered past to accomplish what seemed impossible.

But what is impossible for man, is possible with God. 

Somebody shout, “Here, I AM Lord, Use me!”

So, if you feel unqualified for God’s service, think again.  For the Bible, the inspiration of our faith is filled with misfits, oddballs, rebels, loners, and nonconformist just like you and me.  God chose them and used them.  God chooses those that are unqualified according to man’s standards, but He equips them according to His standards.

So, quit seeing yourself as someone who is substandard, second-rate, low-grade, or inferior.

You!

I AM talking to you! Men and women of God.

I want to encourage you.

You are filled with the Spirit of God and have the call of God on your life!

Who cares what the others may think? I AM talking to the one who is different.  I AM talking to the one “others” overlooked.  I Am talking to the unwanted, rejected and discarded.

I am talking to YOU!

God can use YOU.

Write this down and date it, “Here, I AM Lord, Use me!”

Even if your gifts and talents seem small in comparison to others, that doesn’t mean you’re eliminated from God’s list of candidates.

In fact, your feelings of weakness and inadequacy actually qualify you as a candidate in God’s service!

God is looking for people just like you and me because He knows He will get the glory for what He does through us. You are exactly the kind of person God wants to use!

God uses people who are different to carry out his plan, despite what others think we are capable of.

When we are weak, God shows Himself Strong!

So, regardless of what we think, anyone and everyone is a candidate for greatness in the eyes of the Almighty including you.

Write this down, “I AM a candidate for greatness!”

We all have a ministry according to the will of God.

Our mission is to be like Him and to help others become like Him.  

It’s not only our best skills and traits that can be used in that mission. God wants to use our weaknesses and use them to reclaim the world and draw it to Him.

A great thing about the X-Men and what makes them unique from most superhero stories is that the X-Men are a team of superheroes. And that’s what the church is a team of misfits used for good.

Each of us have special abilities. The Bible refers to these abilities as “spiritual gifts.”  Some of us have the ability to encourage others, some teach, some lead, and others show mercy. These may seem like simple abilities, but in God’s hands, we become capable of doing things we could never do on our own. Since we can’t do it alone, God puts us on a team.

I invite you to join me and let us work together as a team.

God joins us together and empowers us to become a team, that truly can turn this world upside down.

Listen, I AM amazed at the great grace of God. We have seen how God takes a man named Saul, extends to him, His grace, and transforms him into the great Apostle Paul.  This shows that there is hope for people like you and me.  We can be used by God.

Saul a very unlikely candidate to be used for service to the Lord.  A man feared and hated by many.  One who did everything in his power to destroy the name of the Lord Jesus. Yet, God reached down in grace and took this man from where he was and used him to change the world.

We may feel that there is no possible way that the Lord could use us like He did Paul, or that God could even use us at all.

We may feel inferior, unworthy to be used, but I am here today to encourage you and tell you that God can use us.  So, will you join me?  Will you make yourself available to Him? 

I pray that we see and understand that our present circumstances have not caught the Lord by surprise!

He knows everything there is to know about us.

He knows where we are spiritually, and He knows what is going on in our lives right now and He still can use us.  God can take that thing that we consider to be a weakness and use us anyway.

He excels in taking the weak and foolish things of this world and using them in great and mighty ways.

Write this down: (1 Cor 1:27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

Your life may seem foolish or weak to others but “God can still use YOU!”

We have proof of this great truth, “If God can use Paul.  If God can use the church of Corinth. God can use us!

It doesn’t matter…

 Who you are

Where you came from

What problems you have

What personality quirks you exhibit

What level of education you possess

What level of acceptance you have by others

 God can use you.

God can use me.

God can use us!

People who are different!

Not perfect but we serve a God who is. 

 Will you join me? Will you join me and let us band together as a team to be used by God.

A team of misfits, making ourselves available to Him and His work!

Jesus didn’t throw Paul, nor the church of Corinth away because of its issues.   And neither does He throw us away because of our brokenness. Our issues didn’t stop Jesus and neither should they stop us.  Instead, He had Paul, the church of Corinth, Washington Heights, and each of us in mind as He was led to the Cross. He thought we were to die for. 

There is Greatness on the inside of each of us and I pray that we realize that!

That is my prayer for you today.