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Fitting In

2 Timothy 1:7-12

7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.


I want to show you a photograph.

It looks like a couple of rocks until you look closer. But there, in the middle, is me. Trying to fit in. Trying to blend into the rocks. It was taken on a hillside in the Barossa valley along a creek, where I was trying to whistle in a fox. In my left hand is a 70lb compound bow, with which I was hunting.

That day I was not successful.

But it is not a bad picture for me to keep looking at from time to time as it reminds me of who I am, and who I have sometimes been as a Christian. It is an image of me trying desperately to fit in, and the lengths to which I will go not to be seen, and singled out.

It is always a tempting thing, to try to fit in. But at our recent Pastors conference we had a message from Bishop Mark about the difference between fitting in and belonging.

Sometimes it seems easy to be just like everyone else, to try to hide in the crowd, in order that we might be left alone, so that we are not singled out or made fun of or made to feel pain in any way. This is what happens when we try to fit in.

But it is not who we are. It is not who we are called to be.

It doesn’t work for us as people generally, and it is definitely not who we are called to be as followers of Jesus Christ. Because often in our efforts to fit in, we will sacrifice too much that is important.

An example from my own life, if you will bear with me:

Do you remember how they say that the High school years are the best years of your life? People say it like it is a blessing. I used to hear that phrase like a prison sentence. Great. You mean this is as good as it is going to get?

I hated the first three years of high school. I got glasses in year 8, and braces in year 9, and I was the School Pastor’s kid. I was pretty socially immature, and a bit younger than most other people in my year level, and I wanted so badly to fit in. And teenagers make it pretty clear to you when you do not.

Looking back now I know that I tried far too hard. I tried to get rid of the parts of my personality that didn’t seem to fit so I could be like everyone else, and then maybe I would fit in. But in the end I didn’t even know who I was any more. And the person I was becoming, I didn’t like.

It was like I was ashamed to be me.

And then at about the end of year 10, maybe I grew up a bit. Maybe everyone else grew up a bit. I decided that I didn’t care any more whether who I was, was good enough, and that I was just going to be the “me” that came naturally.

And all of a sudden in years 11 and 12 I had so many friends. It was like something changed, like flicking a switch. I probably still didn’t fit in (in terms of being like everyone else). I wasn’t like everyone else. But I had stopped TRYING to be. I didn’t fit in. But I belonged. I belonged with the music guys, and the sports guys who I played alongside, and my own small group of best mates. But strangely, it was only when I stopped trying to become this image that I had in my head of what I thought people wanted me to be, that I actually became who I was supposed to be. And I didn’t fit in. But I belonged.

It is strange that so often Christians are tempted to do that with our faith, aren’t we? To hide what we think will make us not “fit in”, to wear a sort of camouflage so we aren’t ridiculed or singled out, (among friends or at work) which as we know can be quite painful.

And as much as we would never knowingly do this, we are, when we hide our faith, being ashamed of the gospel.

This is the temptation Paul was talking about when he wrote: For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.

If, like me, you have done this at times, (I know that I have got the balance wrong so many times in my life, and become more of the world than a Christian IN the world ) then I have some good news for you. And that good news never changes.

If, like me, you have ever done that, if you have ever kept quiet when you should have spoken out, if you feel like you have missed the chance to tell someone of the hope that you have in Jesus, the good news is that the gospel we hold to and profess is the gospel of grace, and of forgiveness.

You are disqualified from the faith, and from the family of God neither for the things that you have done, or for the good things that you have not taken the chance to do. Paul, who described himself as a persecutor and a violent man, who described himself as “chief of sinners” was not disqualified, God still appointed him as an ambassador and as a herald, and he still has a place for you too.

God is faithful, and he knows who we are. He made us, and he knows our fears, and our weaknesses, and our failings. And he loves us anyway. Does that ever amaze you? Even with all my shortcomings, and sins, and weaknesses, God loves me. In fact every one of those things Jesus took to the cross with him. Every one is paid for. The times I have let him down, and the times you have, too.

So how about we stop holding them against ourselves, and forgive ourselves, as we are forgiven, and we forgive others.

Imagine if we all did that? If we were a church that truly loved and forgave the way that God does? We will never get there in this life, but it is something that is SO worth trying for. Wouldn’t that be an amazing community in which to belong?

Don’t ever be afraid to be you. Don’t ever be afraid to be the you that God made you to be. Because of his design and plan for your life, you belong. Every one of you. Even me! Isn’t that incredible? Don’t more people need to know that?

Go out into the world this week and don’t fit in.


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