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Stand out

Have you won any popularity contests lately? I haven't! I imagine we have all struggled with the idea of being "popular" - being part of the "in" crowd. In school, we'd look at certain groups of girls or boys, see how they dressed, looked at the way they did their hair, listened to what the talked about, and then what did we try to do? For some of us, we tried to "fit in" by doing those things or dressing in similar fashion! If we have a tendency to be "followers" by nature, we want to "bend" to the whim of the crowd we are with. If we are "leaders", we honestly just expect everyone else to fall in line behind us! But...did you ever stop for a moment to think that a leader is no good if there are no followers? Lead or follow as a support to the leader - either role is important - but one should not desire to lead, for leadership carries a great burden and much responsibility.

Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God? Or get popular applause? If my goal was popularity, I wouldn't bother being Christ's slave. Know this—I am most emphatic here, friends—this great Message I delivered to you is not mere human optimism. I didn't receive it through the traditions, and I wasn't taught it in some school. I got it straight from God, received the Message directly from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:10-12)

I was a follower - - getting caught up in the whims of the crowd. I did some pretty "not so nice" things! I engaged in some mischief for which I have long ago repented and asked God's forgiveness. I also got into my fair share of trouble - spending quite a bit of time "explaining" my behaviors to my parents and others! Needless to say, Christ changed a lot for me! I was so concerned with impressing others at that point in my life that I forgot to be myself. I forgot how to be 'real' or 'genuine' in relationship. I needed (or wanted) to be exactly what you needed me to be - not being true to myself at all. Consider the goal of being "popular" for just a moment and you might just realize the "favor" a particular group might show you is sometimes not always what it is cracked up to be. In fact, the very direction the group may be headed will only place you in a position of being rather unpopular with many others! Let me be transparent here - I am not a Christian because it makes me "popular". In most cases, being a Christian these days is not the most popular stand we can take.

Popular describes something or someone as an object or individual who represents the "masses". In today's society, Christianity is proclaimed, but it is not consistently "lived". We cannot say Christian virtues are the popular (prevailing) virtues. In fact, the trend is the tolerance of all virtues - regardless of the religion. So, close personal relationship with Jesus is not always the most 'popular' choice one can make, but it is the more rewarding! Something which can be "adapted" to fit the ordinary intelligence or taste of an individual may be considered to be 'popular'. Regardless of how we might feel about this, God's Word is NOT something we can "adapt" to fit whatever our whims might be. It is meant to be interpreted by certain principled methods and cannot be "twisted" to "fit" our particular stance. Whenever we twist the Word to fit our immediate whim, we are attempting to make the Word of God "popular" - to bend it to the "trend" of society rather than allowing it to affect the "bend" of society!

You may not have realized it, but most things deemed to be popular really have a value determined by those who think it popular. So, we may not always want to be "popular" in our walk. Why would we want to be considered "ordinary" when God declares us to be "extraordinary"? We might not always want to "adapt" things to fit our intentions or plans because when life is all about us, we miss the enjoyment and fulfillment of including those uniquely designed to provide some blessing in our life. We may not realize the "cost" of what we have been given, but hang around long enough and it will eventually become apparent! Nope! We are not in this for the "popularity" it produces! Be willing to be "unpopular" to the masses - God has declared you so already! Just sayin!

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