When Advocacy Makes Us Different

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Growing up, I always felt like I stood out a mile and a half. God has given me a bit of a trailblazing personality, but even so, I’ve often noticed that it seems I don’t fit most molds.

At the age of eleven, I gave my life to Jesus. Up to that point, I often wondered if I was truly secure for eternity. I knew that I had broken God’s law, yet since I was just a few weeks old, I had been attending church. I knew Bible verses and “church answers” when the Sunday school teacher would ask questions. But I felt far away from God; I did not have a personal relationship with Him. I did not understand His great worthiness.

When I surrendered to Him, I knew it was a lifetime commitment. Jesus. Always, only Jesus.

Not long after, I started attending a girls’ discipleship group. I began to understand what it meant to live day to day life as His child. I learned personal disciplines, and took time in the Word very seriously.

As I pursued Him, Jesus was opening my eyes to more of Himself. The things that burdened His heart, I began to share.

I was around thirteen years old when I got on the internet in the evening while my mom was in bed. I had heard about “abortion,” whatever that could be, and I decided I was going to find out for myself if such injustice could possibly be happening in the US.

I encountered a video of an ultrasound being done during an abortion. A child was being torn apart, one limb at a time.

Jaw dropped. Eyes wide open. Heart racing. I clicked the big red “X” in the corner of the webpage, and rushed to my mother’s room.

Mom, that doesn’t actually happen, does it?!!!!

From that day forward I could not live the same way. I could not live comfortably and know that babies could be starved, stabbed, and snipped in the womb with hardly anyone caring.

I always felt like I was abnormal in youth group; through junior high and high school. I had fierce convictions and I did not accept anything for its face value. I couldn’t be like everyone else and talk about boys, cool clothes, and who liked whom; it felt empty and in my black and white mind, there was no place for it, by my perspective.

When small group rolled around, I had to be that one person to ask “Why?” I couldn’t accept a statement just because someone else agreed with our trendy Christian group study book. When I was convicted of something being off, there wasn’t one fiber of my being, in right conscience, that could agree, or stand by.

I didn’t enjoy it, but I was used to the judgmental facial expressions, and comments that flowed from other people’s mouths toward me. I wanted to tell all of them that I fully understood that I was not just like everyone else. I get it. We’re not alike.

Coming to the end of high school, I felt so ready to attend a missions school.

In CNA class, I was the odd one who said medically assisted suicide was insane and should be outlawed always, and that abortion unjustly takes the life of an unborn child.

In communications class, I couldn’t pick a “nice” topic to share; I would tell the heart wrenching story of a little girl being trafficked in Grand Rapids, urging my listeners not to be passive and do nothing about this injustice.

In other words, I had the idea that when I got to school—a school that was serious about pursuing Jesus—maybe I wouldn’t be so strange there.

I arrived with a heart soaring with excitement. 17-years-old and ready for a change.

Half way through the three month program, it hit me. I wasn’t normal there either.

It was true that this school was full of people who were truly pursuing Jesus and loved Him deeply. It was true that I was learning a ton and had made many friends.

But there was yet a sense of emptiness in me. A longing to belong.

I was of the impression that I did not quite meet the expectations. I was a little, uh, strange?

My mind seemed to automatically compile a list of all the places I didn’t fit the mold.

Youth group. Check.
Small group. Check.
Summer camp. Check.
Certain girls’ ministry. Check.
Missions school. Check.

Was I doing something wrong? Isn’t it the world that’s supposed to dislike us and not the body of Christ?

Is it ok to be different from all the other Christian women you know?

I’m probably not the only woman who has felt this way. Maybe you have deep convictions too. Maybe other Christians have looked at you a little funny. Where did she come from?? Maybe you find yourself thinking the same kind of questions as mine.

God makes everyone different

There are no two people who are exactly alike. Even identical twins have different likes and dislikes, and unique personalities. This is not an accident; God creates every person unique intentionally.

You are not supposed to be just like other Christians you know. You were not created to fit human-made molds. You have been made to pursue and know Jesus! The purpose of your existence is not to be a carbon copy of an impressive Christian you know; your heart continues to beat at this moment so that He may be magnified and glorified more fully. If our eyes are fixed on His worthiness, then nothing we encounter from others can exhaust our determination to make Him known in the way He has called us to.

Try everything to His Word

It’s important to evaluate how we are different. Are we talking about a unique burden He has given you? Or a passion-point?

No matter what way we stand out among our peers (or fit in), we must try everything we believe to the Word of God.

Just because someone else who claims to know Jesus is doing something does not make it right.

Just because someone else who claims to know Jesus isn’t doing something doesn’t make it wrong.

Do our ideas come out of fleshly desires? Are we seeking to be known? Is our motive for us to be glorified? Because each of these reasons are unbiblical, and cannot be accepted as a valid reason for doing anything at all.

The ways we stand out must be an outflow of knowing Him. (And it’s ok to have a unique personality, as long as we are submitted and surrendered to the Spirit of God). When we have aches and desires that make us look funny in the eyes of other Christians, we are not necessarily heroic! Just because someone looked at you funny doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something of eternal significance.

It shouldn’t be our desire to make ourselves stand out, rather, we ought to be so yielded to our Savior that we have lost sight of others’ opinions of us. We are called to live pursuing Jesus so seriously that it won’t make a difference to us what others have to say. If they think we stand our or not. May the Word of God be our standard, and not the approval or disapproval of those around us.

Recognize that not everyone respects different 

Even in a country where it’s estimated that there is more than one Bible available for every member of every family, we still encounter many people who have not surrendered their thought process to Jesus. Even amongst your church, you may find that the aches He has given you do not seem to be shared among even one other member! Some may even mock it.

Someone once asked me about a burden of mine.

“Well, I have a burden to protect embryos.” I shared about the sad reality that there are many embryos (children) frozen away in large bio freezers across our country, and how some of these children are thrown away or donated to stem cell research if they are not adopted out.

“Oh that really just prolongs their existence for them to be frozen, doesn’t it?”

I felt disturbed. To this individual, perhaps it seemed a better option to throw children away than to give these vulnerable ones a chance at the rest of pregnancy and life.

That chill to the spine is not an abnormal experience in my life. It bothers me greatly that we devalue life in nearly every possible way in our culture.

People do not like when we will not conform to what is normative. I have noticed this in some churches too; it is essential that we know the Word of God well so that we do not give up our advocacy in the name of a church tradition, or the distaste of a fellow believer. I want to advocate for every vulnerable human being, regardless of who may disrespect, mock, dislike, or disdain our unique call to defend life. We need to be surrendered to Jesus and obedient to the Word, and leave the rest (including our critics) to the Lord.

As you pursue Jesus, you’ll keep becoming more different 

I encourage you, take His hand and GO where He calls you. [1] Whenever advocacy is done in His time and His way, it seems the kingdom of darkness cringes and tries to send as much discouragement as possible. But we know who has won the battle: Jesus! And it is through His grace that we may boldly and graciously defend those who have no voice.

We don’t defend the vulnerable because we’re different in and of ourselves! It’s knowing Jesus that transforms our lives in such a way that we cannot sit by comfortably while others are led down to death. Jesus sets us apart, and makes us into His likeness, which is very strange to the world around us. As we are conformed to the image of His Son, we no longer blend in with this world, but stand out with His radiance shining through our surrendered lives (Rom. 8:28-29, Ps. 34:5, 4:3).

May we be unafraid and unashamed to bear His Light and Life, as He calls us into the dark of night to rescue those the enemy holds captive. As Catherine Booth has said:

“If we are to better the future, we must disturb the present.”

1. Keith & Kristyn Getty. A Mother's Prayer.

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